Understanding the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Learn about GRI standards & find out how organizations/companies can benefit from using it.

Robin Sigl avatar
Written by Robin Sigl
Updated over a week ago

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) helps any organization to communicate its impact on economic, environmental, and social matters. The GRI standards are the most common standards for sustainability reporting. By reporting according to these standards, companies can provide more transparency and comparability of their sustainable development impacts, on their stakeholders 👥.

In this article, we will guide you through the different GRI standards, their elements, and the benefits organizations can gain by reporting according to GRI.

Table of GRI standards introduction and three series of GRI standards.

GRI Universal Standards

  • GRI 1: Foundation 2021: Explains how the GRI Standards should be used and reported.

  • GRI 2: General Disclosures 2021: Comprises disclosures concerning the organizational structure, governance, and practices.

  • GRI 3: Material Topics 2021: Describes how an organization can determine its relevant material topics and comprises disclosures concerning the determination- and management process of material topics that the organization has to report about.

GRI Sector Standards

These standards are currently under development, with the purpose of enhancing the reported content. When these standards become published, they have to be integrated into the organization’s GRI reporting. The Sector Standards also aim to help organizations select the potentially relevant material topics that the specific sector has to include in its GRI report.

GRI Topic Standards

These standards include information that needs to be reported by the organization after determining its relevant material topics.

How to read a GRI Disclosure?

As stated in the GRI 1: Foundation 2021 document, a disclosure has different segments:

  • Requirements highlight what the organization needs to report within a specific disclosure.

  • Compilation Requirements explain if further information needs to be added when reporting according to the requirements, or if there is a specific formula that needs to be used when calculating the data (not all disclosures have Compilation Requirements).

  • Recommendations state encouraged, but not mandatory actions.

  • Guidance assists with understanding the information required in the disclosure.

NOTE ❗Organizations have to notify the GRI after creating a GRI report.

8 ways organizations can benefit from using GRI standards:

  1. Reporting transparently and honestly indicates that the organization takes responsibility for its impacts.

  2. Organizations can evaluate and improve their strategies and policies.

  3. The Standards allow organizations to better determine goals and targets.

  4. Risks can be better identified and reduced.

  5. By benchmarking performance, organizations are enabled to compare their progress from year to year.

  6. The reported information can be useful for stakeholders when, for example, evaluating the organization’s sustainable development.

  7. With the increased demand for sustainability information, organizations can benefit from communicating their sustainability impact, and better develop their strategies accordingly.

  8. Policymakers and academics can also benefit from the available sustainability information, by utilizing the data for research, analysis, or policy-making purposes.

Helpful Links 🔗

Here are some helpful links that further elaborate on the GRI Standards:

At BeCause, we have implemented the GRI framework in a way, that makes it easy for you to report. Contact us here if you would like to learn more about how or would like to get our help 💜.

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