There has been a great deal of change in corporate reporting to shareholders and other stakeholders in recent years. Notable has been an increased reliance on the investor relations section of websites and inclusion on the sites of data oriented disclosures that encourage and facilitate downloading select data for analysis.
There are other changes that have been regularly promoted by various people and organizations but not yet widely adopted. This would include integrated reporting, under which sustainability and financial reporting are combined in an integrated fashion to provide a wholistic picture of the operations of the company.
Some companies provide a separate integrated report, whIch leaves the company with a situation in which they have three different reporting vehicles out for consumption – the integrated report, the traditional annual report and the IR section of the Website.
While these companies deserve recognition for their efforts to innovate, nevertheless, this multi-report world seems an inefficient and wasteful approach.
Perhaps it would make more sense to integrate all three into one single IR Website. At present, the annual report is usually included as a PDF in the Website. Sustainability and governance disclosures are usually included as separate sections of the website, separate from the IR Section. But it is never integrated. This despite the fact that the annual report is a relic of the age of print, and people rarely read the print version any more. Also, it is in most provinces not a legal requirement.
Although companies are usually tight for time in simply complying with legal and regulatory requirements and don’t have a lot of time for innovation, nevertheless innovation of this kind, where the number of reports could actually be reduced, would seem to be a form of innovation that could be very viable.
Perhaps reporting companies should include fully integrated reporting in their set of objectives for their business reporting activities.