The G3 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
The Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (the Guidelines) consist of Principles for defining report content and ensuring the quality of reported information. It also includes Standard Disclosures made up of Performance Indicators and other disclosure items, as well as guidance on specific technical topics in reporting.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. These Guidelines are for voluntary use by organisations for reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services.
Click here to download the pdf of the G3
Living Wages, a taboo issue
Unfortuantely, the Guidelines avoided from their inception addressing the issue of living wages, in line with the preference of their corporate stakeholders. In this way, the current GRIs "G3 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines" fails, once again, to address the critical issue of living wages and relies on the same old multilateral norms that condone the corporate practice of paying misery wages in most countries in the South, despite the fact that a living wage has long been declared a human right. There is an implicit missing link in the world's pursuit of true sustainability.
The Global Reporting Initiative released in 2006 its most recent Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, named the G3. The GRI vies to make sustainability reporting as routine and comparable as financial reporting, a sort of triple-bottom line, often mentioned by other civil organisations, encompassing the financial, environmental and social roles of business. The GRI has become the popular framework for Corporate Social Responsibility reporting, on a voluntary basis, for several hundred organizations, mostly for-profit corporations.
The GRI claims to be the result of a permanent interaction with many people that supposedly represents a wide variety of stakeholders relative to the impact of the activity of business around the world. Yet, these groups appear to represent only those who are "practitioners" of the GRI framework and not of the entire spectrum that would represent all sectors of global civil society as a whole. The fact is that living wages continue to be absent, as a reporting indicator, from the GRI framework.
In this way, the absence of the critical issue of a living wage leads to the conclusion that there is a consistency in the avoidance of this issue by the process followed by the GRI multi-stakeholder working groups, at least since 2002, supposedly created to continuously improve its reporting guidelines. In a globalised economy, we have endured the globalisation of labour markets, prices and consumers but not of labour endowments. The benefits have been privatised, but the costs have been socialized. Nonetheless, the grim and unavoidable reality is that there cannot be sustainability without social justice. Yet, living wages is an element that has been systematically excluded by multilateral organisations, governments and the so-called multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the GRI. To the credit of the GRI, our perception is that they are an organisation open to engaging all sectors of global civil society and somehow listening to their views. Yet the GRI, too, has ignored our call to review the Guidelines addressing the issue of wages and labour compensations.
Thus, the GRI framework continues suffering from the missing link in true sustainability: the reporting by corporations of whether their labour endowments provide workers with a living wage or with exploitative wages of servitude, as is the rule-of-thumb for corporations active in the South.
As a result, TJSGA wrote a paper which addresses the missing issue of living wages in the G3 as well as other G3 limitations of major concern, namely, the continued extreme flexibility in the use of the guidelines in a global context of voluntary reporting relative to how the activity of business affects economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Download the pdf copy of the full essay here.