Last week at the official UK launch of the GRI G4 reporting framework, one of the big questions that came up was how to reconcile the G4 framework with the recently published Integrated Reporting Framework launched by the IIRC in December 2013. Although materiality is a central concept in both – the definition of materiality differs under each framework. Dwayne Baraka’s recent blog entry provides a great synopsis of the principal definitions of ‘materiality’ currently in circulation. Check it out here.
Fast forward to the end and the conclusion is that at the moment there is no single definition of the term and this is bound to cause uncertainty. Add to it the guidance which the FRC and Defra are offering on materiality in relation to recent changes to the reporting regime under the Companies Act 2006 and multiply that uncertainty by at least a factor of ten.
This is a great shame. Surely an elevated emphasis on the concept of materiality all round should be a welcome change, which produces more consistency and focus? Moreover, these frameworks all have the ultimate objective of improving reporting practices and the quality of reports, and should therefore mutually reinforce one another and broaden each other’s reach. This is particularly so given that the GRI G4 is all about sustainability reporting whilst the IIRC focuses on both the financial and non-financial. There is no reason why the GRI G4 shouldn’t fit snugly within the broader framework of the IIRC.
What’s more, there is no reason why companies subject to the latest changes to the UK reporting requirements shouldn’t easily rely on these international, voluntary frameworks jointly to produce a compliant and valuable Strategic Report.
For an easy-to-follow overview of the three frameworks and their related guidance and to begin identifying where they overlap and how they differ, check out our latest FREE guide available here.