Anglo Platinum produced its first fully integrated single volume annual report this year. Here is the link. A friend of mine sent me this information because of my interest in “integrated reporting” where financial and non-financial information are unified into One Report. That is also the name of Harvard professor Robert Eccles new book, One Report, who is a leader in this area. The discussion below was on an integrated reporting discussion site on LinkedIn that I could not access but that just might be me! Perhaps I have to be invited to the discussion group. I did try. The person to contact for more information is Stephen Bullock, Sustainable Development Manager at Anglo Platinum who is on LinkedIn.
I found the reasons behind Anglo Platinum’s integrated reporting very insightful and interesting, particularly this: “Firstly we wanted to demonstrate how CSR has been integrated into how the business is operated and run and this was difficult to do by producing a separate SD report. It created the perception that SD/CSR was an after thought i.e. how we make our profits is different to how we spend them.” The point of integratred reporting is well made in those two sentences. See the input from Anglo Platinum below which appeared in the discussion area.
“This was a change from the two previous volumes with volume 1 in the past being the business report and volume 2 the sustainable development report. What were the drivers for integration? There were a few drivers that led us at Anglo Platinum to produce an integrated report. Firstly we wanted to demonstrate how CSR has been integrated into how the business is operated and run and this was difficult to do by producing a separate SD report. It created the perception that SD/CSR was an after thought i.e. how we make our profits is different to how we spend them. Secondly the new King Code on Corporate Governance in South Africa is encouraging integrated reporting; although the King Code does clearly state that integrated reporting does not mean one report. Thirdly there was the cost element. By producing one report we greatly reduced printing and posting costs associated with the distribution of our annual report to shareholders. What were the challenges? To the best of our knowledge no other resources company had at the time completed an integrated report and we were chartering new ground. We had to rely on examples and experience of integrated reporting from outside of the resources sector. Another big challenge we faced was to be able to ensure that our stakeholders who were used to getting certain information new exactly where to find it in the integrated report. This was overcome by producing an explanation behind our integrated report and a summary reference on page 1 to where stakeholders could find what information. In addition we did produce our “normal” SD report that is available in HTML and pdf format on the company’s website for those stakeholders who simply want to scrutinize the CSR information. Initially we had hoped to create one set of financial and non-financial statements in the same section of the report. However due to differences in financial and CSR assurance we were unable to do this satisfactorily and took the decision to include all SD/CSR related data in the company statistics section of the report. We will be working with our auditing firms this year to overcome this problem for 2010 and hopefully achieve true integration in 2010.”