Sustainability reporting is a win-win, not a hindrance to value creation for the shareholders, opined Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) experts at an event organised by the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE).
Visiting regional leaders of the GRI told the programme at the DSE Training Academy on Thursday that reporting company's actions and status on sustainability creates awareness and accountability.
It may sound a cost for the shareholders to benefit the community and stakeholders from a short term perspective. But in the long run, sustainability helps a company perform better and thus it is a win-win proposition for all, they said.
Dr Aditi Haldar, director of GRI South Asia said, at present 40 companies from Bangladesh are voluntarily reporting their sustainability activities and status, and 13 of those are preparing sustainability reports following global standard. Investors and all the stakeholders treat the entities with a higher importance.
The number should be much higher for a responsible corporate sector, which is a must for success in achieving sustainable development goals (SDG), said Ram Bandyopadhyay, a former secretary of Indian ministry of corporate affairs and also a former member of the country's securities regulator.
Initially we need a culture and awareness for sustainability and later a legal framework might help sustainability reporting.
There are two segments of reporting by companies – financial reporting and non financial reporting and sustainability belongs to the second segment.
The world has successfully eradicated Polio and some other diseases with the help of prioritized collective efforts. Sustainability is also a goal that can be achieved, added Ram, who is working as a GRI advisor now.
Creating values for shareholders is the primary goal of companies as we all know. The modern world seeks a dual role from them and that is playing proactive roles for communities.
To define sustainability he quoted Brundtland Commission -- formerly known as the world commission on environment and development, "Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
DSE Director Minhaz Mannan Emon said in the workshop that proper reporting is the key to investors and Bangladesh needs a great improvement in this regard, both in financial and non financial disclosures. He sought attention of regulators, policy makers and media to strengthen sustainability reporting in the country.
DSE and GRI have been working closely since 2018 to create a conducive environment for publicly listed companies to report on their sustainability impacts.
DSE also published the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) guidance document namely the "Guidance for sustainability reporting for listed companies in Bangladesh" with technical inputs from GRI.
The global initiative began in 1997. It inspired and contributed to formulation of over 100 policies towards sustainability reporting in 50 countries.
The visiting team on Wednesday participated in a session with the top finance executives of many listed companies to share their tips and knowledge on sustainability reporting.