Verification and transparency have become key buzz words in the CSR world. Many CSR programs have been challenged by the question of how to verify and show transparency in respect of the standards or ethical code that the corporation is attempting to implement. Reporting initiatives have emerged as practical tools for verification and transparency. The Global Reporting Initiative has become a leader in reporting due to its framework and guidelines for sustainability reporting.
This past May, the Global Reporting Initiative held the Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency in Amsterdam. World leaders and practitioners of sustainability gathered to focus on how to push the GRI’s framework and guidelines forward and make it a more transparent and beneficial tool. During the conference, a survey was conducted addressing questions of purpose, trustworthiness, effectiveness and transparency of corporate reporting. The conclusions of the survey showed that the purpose of reporting was to account for sustainable practices, as opposed to “improving internal processes”.
While reporting has become a means of guaranteeing transparency, another layer of verification has also appeared. Accreditation has emerged as another supportive tool for certification of labor and environmental standards, as well as codes of conduct. Standards, including SA8000 use accreditation organizations such as SAAS for oversight and certification practices. Accredited certifications could also be applied to reporting as an oversight mechanism to communicate that what is being reported is accurate and in compliance with reporting guidelines and framework. This would help to verify the reporting systems and add more pressure for accuracy. By establishing verification systems using accreditation and reporting, CSR programs can be pushed into ensuring compliance.