GRI Issues Guidelines for Triple-Bottom-Line Reporting

While some in the profession may question the long-term viability of audit-only accounting firms, proposed guidelines issued recently by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) may help make the vision more feasible. The GRI's guidelines for "triple-bottom-line reporting" would broaden financial reporting into a three-dimensional model for economic, social and environmental reporting. Each dimension of the model would contain information that is valuable to stakeholders and could be independently verified.

Numbers, Ratios and Explanations

Despite the convenient shorthand reference to bottom lines, many of the GRI indicators are multi-faceted, consisting of tables, ratios and qualitative descriptions of policies, procedures, and systems. Below are examples of indicators within each of the three dimensions:

  • Economic performance indicators. Geographic breakdown of key markets, percent of contracts paid in accordance with agreed terms, and description of the organization's indirect economic impacts.

  • Environmental performance indicators. Breakdown of energy sources used, (e.g., for electricity and heat), total water usage, breakdown of waste by type and destination, list of penalties paid for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations, and description of policies and procedures to minimize adverse environmental impacts.

  • Social performance indicators. Total workforce including temporary workers, percentage of employees represented by trade unions, schedule of average hours of training per year per employee for all major categories of employee, male/female ratios in upper management positions, and descriptions of policies and procedures to address such issues as human rights, product information and labeling, customer privacy, and political lobbying and contributions.

The GRI was formed in 1997 by a partnership of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES). Several hundred organizations have participated in working groups to help form the guidelines for triple-bottom-line reporting. These organizations include corporations, accounting firms, investors, labor organizations and other stakeholders.

Download the guidelines and the invitation to comment. Comments are due by May 26, 2002.

-Rosemary Schlank

You may like these other stories...

A proposal issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) last week explains how fair value measurement should be defined for state and local government financial reporting.The exposure draft, Fair Value...
By Jason Bramwell The board of trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) finalized a new policy on November 19 that provides the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) with direction on what...
By Jason Bramwell The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is now offering a free online toolkit designed to assist preparers and auditors of state and local government pension plans with implementing new...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 21
Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience's communication style.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.