Sumaya Rashid: Early 1960s, the CSR reporting focused on employee reporting. The employee reporting was replaced by some social issue like feminism coming in the place, quality of races issue, cold war etc during 1960-70. So the social mind become broader than the issue of social report on employees. At this time, some material on environment issue came to notice but the main focus was on social aspects. So this picked in 1970s. Late 1960, 70 and 80 there were some environmental context. This instigated a lot to society, environment and in addition, it resulted to create an interest of companies to generate kind of social disclosure. So, history presented that in 1990, environmental reporting by companies in USA. A huge environmental context that had a lasting impact was Bhopal Tragedy in 1984. 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas leaked from Union Carbide Corporation’s chemical plant in Bhopal that killed at least 2,000 people and 200,000 people were physically damaged (The New York Times, 28 January 1985) . so it was a bad publicity for the company. So the chemical companies all over the world got worried. Then chemical industries came up with a program called responsible care and they decided to self-regulation. They started the responsible care program in Canada and now there are more than 60 chemical industry association worldwide. So the environment reporting varies from country to country according to the legal system, stakeholder engagement and cross country culture.
Middle 1990s, a consultant “John Elkington” who had a consultancy on think-tank called sustainability. His notion was a triple bottom line. The problem of financial statement mainly reports on economics but ignores other aspects which is very important for company future success – social and environmental issue. So his vision was, a single bottom line can’t overcome organization’s success but there has to have other two bottom line for environmental impact.
2002, 70% company reports shifted from environment, health & safety report to sustainability report. 2011, 44% companies of global 250 large companies generated this kind of report and in 2017 it highs to 78% (Source: The KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2017)
To support organizations on this strategic journey, there are some global reporting guidelines, the most widely adopted framework GRI standard places the concept of materiality at the heart of sustainability reporting. This means encouraging reporting organizations to only provide information on the issues that are really critical in order to achieve the organization’s goals and manage its impact on society. GRI invites companies to analyze the fundamental links between their sustainability impacts and their business strategy and operations. By taking a strategic and materiality-based approach, organizations will get greater value out of reporting, and a greater return for the resources they invest. External assurance can greatly enhance the credibility of sustainability disclosures.
Sustainability Reporting is not a trend but necessity:
Globally the apparel market is facing various uncertainty. As Bangladesh is ambitious to lead in apparel export and is criticized for some bad form of publicity every now and then, this is high time for textile companies to publish sustainability report voluntarily who envisage a long-term visionary return. This will keep them safe to stakeholders and attract buyers.
According to the Global Footprint Network, the world’s population is using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. As we move towards a global population for 9 billion by 2050, we need to find a way to live within the boundaries of one planet.
Under Green Banking & CSR guideline, Bangladesh Bank (The central bank of Bangladesh) instructed all the scheduled banks and NBFIs to publish sustainability report annually and also encouraged to get sustainability assurance by third-party assurer (such as: SR Asia). Social Responsibility Asia (SR Asia) exists to foster the positive response to the sustainability challenges we face, to promote sustainability reporting standard practice among companies for a positive change towards the sustainable global economy.
Reporting is a tool to help answer the sustainability challenges. It does this by providing a structure where sustainability impacts are measured. Sustainability Reporting benefits companies to become more transparent by the commitment to the social and environmental cause, get acceptability globally, increase reputation with brand value, improved access to funds and Increase resource efficiency and reduction of waste. The value of sustainability reporting process is that it ensures organizations consider their impacts on these sustainability issues, and enables them to be transparent about the risks and opportunities they face. Stakeholders play a crucial role in identifying these risks and opportunities for organizations. This increased transparency leads to better decision making, which helps build and maintain trust in business and governments.
Sustainability Report begins with developing a vision and strategy towards a more sustainable future, helps in improving internal processes, identifying organization’s strengths & weaknesses which also helps in attracting, motivating & retaining employees.