26 Sep 14

Is GRI G4 the right sustainability framework for your organisation?

GRIG4The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a framework for comprehensive corporate social responsibility reporting on environmental, social and governance topics. The latest iteration of the framework, GRI G4, puts stakeholder engagement to determine materiality at the forefront of the reporting methodology.  

The depth and breadth of GRI G4 is one of its greatest strengths as it covers a plethora of environmental, social and governance areas but provides a flexible framework for reporting only on issues that are deemed material by stakeholders. Organisations reporting in accordance with GRI are required to engage with stakeholder groups to carry out a thorough materiality assessment to identify only the relevant areas that should be reported on. The diagram shows an example prioritisation matrix from the GRI G4 implementation manual where influence on stakeholder assessment and decisions is weighed against the significance of economic, environmental and social impacts to determine whether aspects are material.


The GRI has close links with the IIRC’s Integrated Reporting and is the recommended reporting standard for the UN Global Compact (UNGC). Unlike CDP and DJSI, reporting in accordance with GRI does not involve a prescriptive scoring process and instead reporting on stakeholder engagement and transparency are stressed. A ‘Materiality Matters’ assessment can be carried out by GRI to ensure that an organisation’s materiality process meets the guidelines of G4 disclosure but this only seeks to validate the materiality process and doesn’t score material aspects on performance.

Alongside standard disclosures on strategy and governance, there is a requirement to disclose the management approach for both the organisation and for each specific indicator identified as material to the business.

Sometimes associated with larger organisations, a GRI report can be produced for any size and sector of organisation but will usually align with an organisation’s annual reporting year for consistency. Guidance for SME’s and specific sectors that experience bespoke challenges (e.g. food processing, mining, construction) have been produced by GRI to aid organisations in using the framework.

Greenstone’s sustainability reporting software has been certified by GRI’s Certified Software and Tools Program which guarantees that software and digital tools are using GRI content accurately, enabling robust and transparent reporting and making sustainability reports better, more accessible and easier to produce.

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GRI , Frameworks