Unlike SA 8000, AA 1000, or ISO 14001, the Global Reporting Initiative is not a code of conduct (explaining what a company should or should not do), a performance standard (providing measurements by which a company can judge how well it is performing), or a management system (mandating the necessary management processes and policies that should be in place to ensure compliance). What the GRI framework does do is provide the principles and content guidelines that allow an organization to prepare social and environmental sustainability reports in a competent, consistent way.
The framework addresses three areas of company performance: social,-environmental, and economic. Within these three areas there are 110 indicators of performance (of which 57 are mandatory and 53 are voluntary) covering employment policies, disciplinary practices, bribery and corruption, political contributions, product safety, emissions and waste polices, supplier activities, and various supply chain issues such as the safety and disposal of manufacturing materials, and safe and environmentally sound transportation and logistics policies. [9 ]
Moreover, in response to criticism that a one- size -fits-all model means that many of these indicators are inappropriate for differing industry sectors, the GRI has now developed sector-specific supplements that provide more appropriate indicators for sectors such as mining, car manufacturing, financial services, and tour operators.
The structure of the framework incorporates several important principles:
First, it provides a standard reporting process (ensuring transparency and auditability ).
Second, it helps companies decide what to include in their reports ( completeness, relevance, and context ).
Third, the framework is designed to ensure quality and reliability ( accuracy, neutrality, and comparability ).
Finally, it helps to ensure that the reporting is relevant and readable ( clarity and timeliness of information).
[9 ] Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, the Global Reporting Initiative, 2002, p. 36.