by Ornella Cilona, Cgil nazionale
(Translation by Federico Tani)
The conference, organized by GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), aimed at presenting the Italian translation of the latest version of the social reporting tool developed by GRI, the GRI Standards, published in 2016 (click here for the Italian version of the GRI Standards). The importance of this reporting tool can be inferred from the following figure: today, 75% of the world’s 250 largest companies use the GRI Standards to publish their sustainability report. In Italy, between 2000 and 2019, companies in our country published 883 sustainability reports, 82% of which use GRI tools. In the coming months, the GRI Standards will be updated, a process that usually involves the economic and social partners at international level as well. The section on human rights reporting tools in particular will be reviewed.
As is well known, the EU Directive 2014/95/EU imposed in 2014 the obligation for public interest companies (listed on the stock exchange, banks and insurance companies) with more than 500 employees and based in the EU to publish a sustainability report. To facilitate compliance with this obligation, in 2017 the European Commission published voluntary guidelines on the reporting of non-financial information and, in June this year, also voluntary guidelines on how to report information on the impact of companies’ actions and decisions on the climate. The European Directive has revived interest in sustainability reporting, opening new horizons for GRI reporting tools.
Numerous speeches were given at the conference. Sara Lovisolo, Sustainability Policy Manager at Borsa Italiana, said that reporting must go beyond the debate between mandatory and voluntary, also paying attention to the needs of smaller companies. Borsa Italiana has also recently published a document that aims to guide companies in non-financial reporting.
Then, Filomena Maggino, president of the new “Benessere Italia” institutional committee, established by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in July of this year, spoke. This body will support the Prime Minister on technical and scientific matters concerning the field of welfare policies and the evaluation of citizens’ quality of life. There are three main activities of the “Benessere Italia” body: coordinating and monitoring the specific activities of the Ministries; helping regional administrations to promote good practices in the territory; developing specific methodologies and guidelines for the collection and measurement of quality of life indicators. The committee will also have the task of supporting, strengthening and coordinating the policies and initiatives of the Italian Government for Fair and Sustainable Welfare (BES) and for the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (SNSvS), within the framework of the commitments undertaken by Italy for the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Maggino, professor of social statistics at the University of Rome, anticipated that the first two topics the committee will have to deal with will be sustainable mobility and food.
Guglielmina Onofri, who at CONSOB is responsible for supervising the correctness of non-financial information published by Italian companies required to implement the EU Directive 2014/95 on non-financial information, recalled that CONSOB is also responsible for sanctioning those companies that publish untrue information. In 2017, 210 companies complied with the obligation of the EU Directive 2014/95 and CONSOB did not impose any sanction. In 2018, five companies not obliged to comply with the EU Directive published a non-financial report in addition to those that were obliged to do so. Onofri highlighted that 100% of the companies that published a sustainability report followed the GRI Standards, and 25% of these belong to the financial sector; they are followed by those operating in customer services and manufacturing.