Where are the Application Levels?

We come across a lot of sustainability reports in our daily work here at Framework:CR. As the majority of reporting companies now use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, I’ll usually flip to the GRI Index or the “About this Report” section to get a quick read on what I might expect to find.

What continues to puzzle me is why a good percentage of companies that use the GRI fail to declare an Application Level. (An Application Level is a GRI-defined A/B/C ranking that indicates to what degree a company has used the Reporting Guidelines).

What is even more confusing is when a company goes to the trouble of providing a full GRI Index, includes sufficient disclosures for an A or B Application Level… and STILL doesn’t declare. For example, can you find an Application Level declaration in Nike, Cisco Systems, or Johnson&Johnson’s latest reports?

What’s going on here?

I speculate that some companies:

a) forgot to put in the declaration in the craziness of finalizing a report and getting it out the door,

b) didn’t want to have a “grade” associated with their report, even though the Application Levels have nothing to do with report quality, or

c) didn’t realize that the GRI requires any reporter using the Guidelines to declare an Application Level.

But, what I’d really like is to hear from you if your company has chosen to (or neglected to) declare an Application Level. Is it a boycott of the system? Avoidance of management objections to a “C” ranking? Or am I just looking in the wrong places?

Post your comments here!

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2 Responses to Where are the Application Levels?

  1. Dave says:

    The answer is B…for a few reasons. Definitely not ‘A’ and ‘C’ seems to be an odd “rule.”

  2. Susan Blesener says:

    My company has been an A+ reporter for many years and we are looking to remove declaration of the level. This is because we are an integrated reporter and GRI is only one framework we use for reference and inspiration. The GRI information says the declaration is for the following purpose: ‘To indicate that a report is GRI-based, report makers should declare the level to which they have applied the GRI Reporting Framework.’

    As an integrated reporter, I would not want anyone to think that our primary intent is to follow GRI guidelines when we are taking a much broader approach with an integrated corporate strategy and performance management system. GRI is more of a checklist, we use it as an index for people who find that format helpful.