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The impact of COVID-19 has strengthened social reporting
10 Jul 2020

On June 17th, 2020, Disability Hub Europe (DHUB) held in virtual format its 2nd partners’ Steering Committee. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), represented by Christine Koblun, Head of Content Development and Program Delivery, talked about the impact of COVID-19 in sustainability reporting. 

After COVID-19, GRI has seen an increasing interest in sustainability reporting, not only from the companies but also from the financial and investor perspective. “We are actually noticing, from many consultancy firms that are helping companies with their sustainability record, that they had never been as popular as nowadays”, they claimed. However, the main concern for many organizations now, according to GRI, is how to really integrate sustainability and transparency into the new normality and how to ensure not to return to where they were before the crisis.

GRI also reminded about the importance of sustainability context for reporting. “The context not only determines what organizations will be talking about in their sustainability report, but also where they should be putting the emphasis in their sustainability activities”, she said. Since COVID-19 has changed the sustainability context, many companies will have to reassess what their materiality topics are. In this sense, she believes that after the crisis, materiality in companies will be much more focused on social topics such as employee well-being, community well-being, occupational health and safety and also inclusion and equality. “We see a lot of focus on social topics, especially more demand from investors”, she pointed out.

Christine also said that reporting has been key for risk management. “When you are a sustainability reporter and you already measure your impacts this also makes you think about your risks and many have told us that thinking of their risks has prepared them a little bit better for this crisis”, she stated. Finally, GRI talked about the current big discussion about responsibility within the supply chains, which is really related to the social aspects. She said that the big question is about ownership and who is taking responsibility of the supply chain.

In conclusion, according to the organization, COVID-19 has strengthened the social dimension of sustainability reporting and thus topics such as inclusion and equality which, in comparison to the environmental dimension, were less considered before.