According to the results of the 2013 survey, 33 companies out of N100 report locally information on their sustainability performance, either as a separate CR report or as a section of the annual report. The remaining 36 companies report only to the Group.
GRI Guidelines are the most commonly used sustainability reporting framework throughout the world and are recognized as a best practice barometer in this area. However, the reporting principles of these Guidelines are currently taken into consideration by only 4 out of the 33 companies in N100 reporting locally and none of these reports have external assurance. This indicates that generally, companies operating in Romania are not yet aware of the extent to which such external verification helps increase stakeholders’ confidence in the published information. Producing credible information on a company’s sustainability performance is increasingly accepted as being crucial to enhancing the company’s brand and reputation.
In a manner similar to a financial audit report, the verification of, and the issuance of an opinion related to the sustainability report, by an independent company, provides confidence in the reliability of the reported data and information in terms of relevance, consistency and accuracy. Additionally, this demonstrates to key stakeholders that the business is willing to open up to external scrutiny in areas of interest to stakeholders and in doing so helps to develop trust.
Apart from providing confidence related to the quality of the reported data, assurance of sustainability/CR reports creates confidence for the related companies’ management that non-financial information used within the business for performance management and decision making, is fit for purpose. Assurance helps to raise the profile of sustainability and embed management priorities within the business.
The importance and benefits of external sustainability assurance have also been presented by GRI in its publication "The external assurance of sustainability reporting", which you can find here.