It can be a daunting task. How can you be sure that your report is really integrated and not merely a bunch of facts and figures crammed together into one document?
Says Integrated Reporting SA: “An integrated report tells the story about a company: who it is, what it does, how it creates value, its strategy, opportunities and risks, its business model and governance, and the performance against its strategic objectives in a way that gives stakeholders a holistic view of the company and its future.”
In other words, tell the story of your company with as much transparency as you can manage – imagine you want to invest in the business, what information would you like to know? Keep in mind, however, that this report needs to be as concise as possible – this means that the language used should clear and to the point, and any information and detail that is irrelevant should be avoided.
So, what do you include in an integrated report? Stick to the following guidelines, which Integrated Reporting SA recommends:
- Highlight the connection between past, present and future performance, between financial and non-financial information, and between qualitative and quantitative information.
- Include an assessment of the relationship of the organisation with its key stakeholders, including the responsiveness of the organisation to the needs and interest of these stakeholders.
- Include any issues that will affect the organisation’s ability to create value, over the short and long term. Remember, it’s all about value creation.
- Provide insight into the organisation’s performance – good and bad. Your report needs to be balanced.
- And lastly, get rid of all irrelevant information. Your report needs to be as concise as possible. Anything extra can always follow in further reports.
Don’t know where to begin? Start with your introductory paragraph. Here you need to include a breakdown of what the report offers, i.e. a summary of the performance of the company (good and bad), as well as solutions on how to eradicate that bad – remember, this needs to be a frank and balanced report.
Most importantly, keep in mind the IIRC’s (International Integrated Reporting Council) framework when compiling your report (it applies principles and concepts that are focused on bringing cohesion and efficiency to the reporting process while adopting integrated thinking) – and the King III principles which govern corporate governance – when compiling your report. This will ensure that your report is a “holistic and integrated representation of the company’s performance in terms of both its finance and its sustainability,” says the King Report on Governance for SA.
However, warns Clive Lotter, integrated and sustainability consultant, “preparing an integrated report merely for King III compliance misses the big picture entirely. An authentically prepared report will revise internal reporting in a manner that future proofs the company and reduces costs.” Don’t just report on your company, solutions are pivotal in order to enhance the company’s future performance. Check out this infographic for what good corporate governance entails when compiling your integrated report.
And don’t forget to include visual elements such as infographics (like the one shown here), images, graphs and tables as they make information delightfully more succinct and makes the report visually appealing.