A quiet revolution has taken place in sustainability reporting. These days most management teams acknowledge the importance of collecting and reporting nonfinancial data, but companies vary in how they deploy this information as a tool for strategic growth.
No one standard exists for nonfinancial reporting. Just as it took decades for financial reporting to evolve to where it is today, nonfinancial reporting will take some time to standardise as well. In the meantime, companies differ in their views on how much time and how many resources should be budgeted for gathering sustainability data, or where exactly sustainability professionals should reside in an organisation.
Yet the thirst for nonfinancial information is very real, and external pressure from shareholders, customers, regulators and the media has companies focusing on ways to collect and use nonfinancial data. To date, however, there has been a disconnect even at "sustainable" companies: Sustainable information isn't often factored into corporate strategy. A new trend called integrated reporting is part of a movement toward timely and transparent disclosure of nonfinancial data so it can be used to make real-time, strategic business decisions.