GRI and ESRS: Learning to cook with some new ingredients

It may be a slightly different recipe, but you’re already handling the main ingredients and know your way around the ESG kitchen. Make the most of the alignment of the GRI Standards and ESRS to ensure your sustainability statement represents your company’s signature dish, rather than a compliant bland bowl full of lukewarm disclosures.

Setting the table for success

In a significant step towards reducing the reporting burden for Europe’s business community and harmonising sustainability reporting standards, EFRAG and the GRI have made great strides to enhance the interoperability between the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and the GRI Standards, where core concepts and disclosures are now fully or closely aligned.

Their recent cooperation agreement reassures GRI reporters that they’ll be well prepared for the upcoming ESRS requirements – as mandated by the CSRD – and can seamlessly integrate them into existing processes. However, ensuring a transition rather than a do-over when tackling your sustainability statement means understanding both the interplay between GRI and ESRS and the right steps to take.

5 tips for delectable ESRS reporting 

Take stock with your double materiality assessment

The ESRS has the same definition for impact materiality as GRI uses, describing actual and potential negative impacts on the environment and people, and highlighting the severity as determined by scope, scale and irremediable character. Furthermore, the ESRS includes financial materiality, assessing how the financial effects of ESG issues impact value creation at your specific organisation. 

This double materiality assessment (DMA) as defined by the CSRD is the perfect departure point for your transition to ESRS reporting, and with a GRI impact assessment under your belt, you’re already halfway there. The DMA is key to determining which ESRS disclosure requirements and data points you must report on and may report on to correctly complete your required ESRS disclosures.

Ditch the double work – be smart when re-mapping topics

So you’ve previously done a DMA but the material topic names don’t match? Don’t panic! The ESRS guidance clearly states that you are not required to have your material topic names in alignment with ESRS topics – either in the materiality determination or reporting phases. Only the ESRS disclosures matter, for example, your own selected topic name “Employee wellbeing” may include ESRS disclosures for health and safety.

Use EFRAG’s comprehensive list of data points as the go-to technical resource to identify and map your ESRS disclosures. The GRI and EFRAG collaboration has also launched their draft GRI-ESRS Interoperability Index, a mapping tool of the disclosures from both standards to simplify the process for reporting companies making the transition.

Spice up your sustainability statement 

Perfecting a signature dish is a learning process, so why not include your  ESRS sustainability statement within your next Annual Report? This serves as a welcome taste test of what is to come and is an achievable step towards full compliance in the following year. 

After determining the material topics for reporting through your DMA, you can structure your report in line with the ESRS recommendations provided. It doesn’t have to follow the application requirements perfectly the first time around, and you gain key learnings and a sense for how the process works.

“When making ESRS disclosures, ensure there is a consistent narrative linking the information to your core business strategy. This demonstrates that you have integrated ESG factors into your value creation processes. It also provides useful context and shows a level of ESG maturity beyond taking compliance-only actions.”

– Calum Revfem, Director of Reporting at Position Green

Upskill your kitchen crew

The larger project team that is required for producing integrated reporting can create an ownership challenge. There needs to be clear project ownership within each team – i.e. within risk, strategy, communications and sustainability. It’s important that the relevant teams within the business are engaged early, understand what exactly is being baked, and are upskilled to own and deliver on their part of the process. For example, the CFO and the Head of Sustainability will need to ensure the project teams can speak both the finance language and sustainability language required in ESRS reporting. Targeted training of key personnel can ensure a fully streamlined process – from data entry through to embedded strategy.

Don’t let the compliance burden overcook your next report

Sustainability reporting should not be viewed as a check-box compliance exercise. Rather, it should be seen as a conduit to creating value for your organisation. The priority is to produce a readable, engaging report that showcases your company’s unique sustainability flavour and whets the appetite of a wide range of investors and stakeholders. By making an informed selection of disclosures, you can integrate some new ingredients that will truly elevate your signature dish. Harness the potential of your sustainability statement to achieve long-term impact beyond compliance.

How can Position Green help?

Position Green provides ESRS software and advisory expertise to support your company throughout the data collection and reporting process – from identifying and disclosing your material impacts, risks and opportunities through to setting targets and metrics. As a trusted partner, we help you streamline the collection, analysis and reporting of high-quality data while making sense of the standard for your specific industry and business structure.

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