In a bid to accelerate the practice of transparency and disclosure among businesses in the region, the Arabia CSR Network conducted a two-day session on corporate social responsibility and sustainability reporting on 21-22 May 2014. The training focussed on the leading CSR and sustainability reporting framework called GRI. It is named after the Global Reporting Initiative, an Amsterdam-based organisation that has developed a set of guidelines to help organizations report their CSR performance. It is widely adopted by companies across the world to document qualitative and quantitative information related to performance in areas such as environment, ethics and governance. GRI reports are seen as a great medium to communicate with a bunch of organizational stakeholders and external communities that organizations feel accountable to.
The Arabia CSR Network (ACSRN) is a certified training partner of GRI with a mandate to deliver trainings in the Arab Region. Since 2011 ACSRN has conducted sixteen sessions on the GRI G3.1 or third generation reporting guidelines and more recently, on the latest upgraded G4 or fourth generation version of GRI, reaching out to 178 professionals and 82 organizations. This training, the first fully fledged certified training session on G4 undertaken by Arabia CSR Network, was given to middle and top management level delegates from some of the region’s leading manufacturing companies and officials from federal and local government entities. So far the trainings have directly yielded around twenty GRI compliant reports, and many more companies are following the GRI framework to develop robust reporting and communication systems to successfully relay year-by-year performance in governance areas, environmental management, social commitment and economic growth.
The GRI G4 guidelines were launched in 2013 to help reporters narrow the focus to only those areas that are of high significance to a company and its most influential stakeholders. In that sense the G4 report speaks more directly to stakeholders by responding primarily to their interests and concerns, and by sharing strategy, policies and actions that help to create a positive impact on the business, society and the environment. Therefore G4 talks extensively about ‘Material Issues’ and offers a sophisticated and data-oriented methodology to disclose performance. Having being launched in the past year G4 reporting is still in its infancy globally and in the Region. However a number of Arabian organizations have embraced the G4 framework as the best and most advanced means of capturing CSR achievements. ACSRN seeks to encourage this trend and build capacity for GRI reporting.
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