Allstate uses their social responsibility report to tell the story of the company’s longstanding history serving the communities in which they operate. Allstate has been recognized as an industry leader, a great place to work and as a good corporate citizen. To communicate their message to the public, Allstate voluntarily uses metrics outlined by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI reporting method provides companies, including Allstate, with the necessary tools to increase transparency and report on sustainability initiatives.
A company’s ethics, compliance and sustainability initiatives are becoming increasingly important to both consumers and business leaders. Adopting best practices in reporting helps companies communicate their goals to the public, holding the company accountable for taking action to achieve their goals. Reporting on ethics, compliance and sustainability helps other business leaders benchmark their own practices. It also helps business leaders make important decisions when it comes to developing relationships, such as selecting suppliers, vendors and outsourcing partners.
Global Reporting Initiative
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) collaborates with the UN Environment Programme, as well as developed synergies with the UN global compact and the Earth Charter Initiative. The GRI has developed the G3 Guidelines, which is an evolving list of recommended guidelines to follow when preparing all types of annual reports. The GRI guidelines are continuously improved and expanded on as information pertaining to sustainability issues develops and better practices are established. The GRI guidelines have been developed in such a way that they can be used by any company, regardless of size, location or industry. As explained on the GRI website, the benefits of GRI reporting are:
“Sustainability reports based on the GRI framework can be used to benchmark organizational performance with respect to laws, norms, codes, performance standards and voluntary initiatives; demonstrate organizational commitment to sustainable development; and compare organizational performance over time. GRI promotes and develops this standardized approach to reporting to stimulate demand for sustainability information – which will benefit reporting organizations and those who use report information alike.”
The GRI reporting framework is explained in depth on their website, defining:
- Report content- The information required in a report in order for it to be complete.
- Report quality- Guidance for ensuring a balanced, clear, accurate, timely and reliable report.
- Report boundaries- Determine which entities will be represented in the report. This includes subsidiaries, as well as organizations the reporting company has control over or significant influence.
- Profile disclosures-Sets the tone for understanding the performance of the organization, such as strategy and analysis, organization profile and governance. This section lays out messages from top executives, risks and opportunities for the company, as well as other key factors and organizational information.
Each of the above sections is broken down into greater detail to target the specific information to include in the report. As mentioned in the 2009 Social Responsibility Report from Allstate:
“The GRI guidelines give us a more effective framework for organizing content, and take our reporting to the next level. The guidelines also suggest goals and priorities for the continuing development of our programs.”
Allstate has been reporting on social responsibility since 2003. In 2009, Allstate adopted the GRI guidelines for the first time when putting together the company’s annual social responsibility report. In the report, Allstate addresses the reasoning behind adopting the GRI guidelines:
“How corporations like Allstate affect the world at large matters to an increasing number of customers, shareholders, employees and others in the broader community. It’s important that businesses report shortcomings as well as successes, and that readers can compare results across different companies and countries.”
One of the elements of the Allstate Social Responsibility Report I find very useful is the GRI chart at the end of the report (beginning on page 73). Allstate has taken each of the required elements outlined by the GRI, placed them in a table and provided the reader with the page number each item can be located on. This seems simple, however it’s a great way to ensure each GRI component is included in the report. For companies looking for tools and advice to guide annual reports, such as social responsibility and sustainability, the GRI reporting framework is a highly respected resource. At Allstate, they have factored in the GRI requirements, as well as additional information stakeholders requested to see in their report in order to create a best in class social responsibility report.