Corporate Reporting on Poverty

GRI Discussion Paper, January 2018
Corporates in Inclusive Business
Results Measurement and Impact
27. Jan 2018

Global Reporting Initiative discussion paper: Corporate reporting on poverty

• 28 pages •

Corporate reporting on poverty helps to understand the role and responsibilities of the private sector in contributing to poverty alleviation. Businesses have an important role to play in eradicating poverty and supporting sustainable development. The benefit is mutual – stronger economies and stable societies create vast opportunities for growth in new markets. The report shows that companies need to move beyond philanthropy and community engagement, towards strategies with large-scale impacts.

Importance of the publication for businesses

  • Practical assistance in documenting your business’ impact into the globally recognized GRI sustainability reporting
  • Sustainable businesses have a competitive advantage

Importance of the publication for policymakers

  • Enabling policies and regulations encourage private sector involvement in your national/local development goals

Importance of the publication for the IB ecosystem

  • Opportunity to review the nature of business actions and access to sustainable goods, policies, and businesses.

In 2017, GRI published the report Can Corporate Reporting Help End Poverty? to analyse and determine the impact of improved data and reporting on businesses’ contributions to poverty alleviation, the Sustainability Development Goal 1 (SDG I). The basic premise is that including poverty alleviation in existing GRI sustainability reporting will encourage companies to explore new business opportunities and to contribute to achieving SDG I. The discussion paper Corporate Reporting on Poverty, published in January 2018, serves as a follow-up, and provides practical recommendations for organisations seeking to optimise and expand their corporate reporting on poverty alleviation.

SDG I “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” is formulated very broadly, making it difficult for firms to recognise opportunities to contributing to this goal. The report clarifies the possibilities of corporate initiatives and subsequent reporting on poverty by introducing a multi-dimensional understanding of poverty beyond income. It incorporates non-monetary aspects, such as mal-nutrition, security, and access to healthcare, education, and clean water. The role of businesses in alleviating poverty can shift through this deepened understanding, and by assessing the business risks and opportunities tied to ending poverty.

The GRI report identifies four areas in which businesses can contribute to ending poverty: in the workplace (e.g. fair wages and working conditions), in the supply chain (e.g. promoting labour rights), in the market place (e.g. inclusive products and services), and in the external operating environment (e.g. paying taxes transparently and impact investing).

The report introduces nine existing sustainability reporting standards and initiatives, followed by practical suggestions with new poverty-related disclosures in the existing GRI reporting framework regards to the four areas, which can assist businesses in upgrading their reports, for example.

The report recommends for companies to be more explicit in documenting the poverty context in their business and their country, and to be more consistent and measurable in reporting their contributions to poverty alleviation. It encourages companies to look beyond SDG I and focus on the broader societal outcomes, as well as to integrate the development goals into their strategy.

GRI will continue to raise awareness with leading examples of corporate disclosure and keep working together with external stakeholder groups. GRI will focus on working with companies and policy makers in countries where poverty is most prevalent, like sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.