Mike Wallace Gives Progress Report on Corporate Sustainability

The Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance, and the Public Interest welcomed Mike Wallace, director of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Focal Point USA, on the evening of October 2nd as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. His lecture, titled "Sustainability Performance: Measuring, Managing and Reporting," gave an in-depth overview of the current state of corporate sustainability reporting across the world.

The Global Reporting Initiative is a leading organization in the sustainability field that promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development. According to a 2011 KPMG Sustainability Report, 95 percent of the 250 largest companies now report on their corporate responsibility activities. Interestingly, two-thirds of non-reporters are based here in the U.S. The GRI guidelines are currently in their fourth version and Wallace took time to explain how the guidelines have evolved over time and some of the newest disclosures. Companies now must publish a GRI content index in order to classify as a GRI-based sustainability report.

Awareness and uptake of sustainability reporting has increased dramatically in recent years. Many organizations consider sustainability reporting to be necessary and beneficial. But growth in sustainability reporting needs to be exponential for it to become a standard business activity. All of the major stock exchanges now report corporate sustainability performance as well as the Bloomberg Terminal. More and more governments are also making sustainability reporting mandatory. Wallace’s presentation was very enlightening and made a strong case for sustainability’s future impact on the global corporate landscape.

With nearly 20 years of international experience in the sustainability field, Wallace has worked with corporations, nonprofits and government agencies on the development, implementation and integration of sustainability programs. He is a recognized expert in the field, speaks and writes internationally on the subject of sustainability and reporting, and has inside knowledge on how the financial markets use sustainability information. For more information on the Global Reporting Initiative, visit www.globalreporting.org.