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UPS Pioneers New Global Sustainability Reporting Framework

By Patrick Browne and Joe Monfort

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world, issued its fourth generation of guidelines in May 2013.  These new guidelines (called “G4”) are the most significant update to the reporting framework since 2006.  They emphasize identifying the most material sustainability issues for your organization and articulating how your organization manages these issues.

To sum, G4 is about focusing on what matters.  Prior to the new guidelines, all companies were encouraged to report on all things.  A bank was expected to disclose its water consumption in addition to how it promoted financial literacy.  A company like UPS was expected to report its biodiversity impacts in addition to the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations.  As a result of this broadly applied brush, sustainability reporting began to feel like a “paint-by-numbers” exercise.  With G4, companies can create meaningful works of art full of rich detail that matter to their stakeholders.

At UPS, we welcome GRI’s new focus on focus.  We know that our stakeholders want usable information that informs their decisions.  G4 provides the ideal vehicle for us to deliver exactly that.  That’s why this year we have taken another progressive step to demonstrate our commitment to transparency.  We have adopted the G4 guidelines and we will be one of the first corporations in the United States to publish at a “Comprehensive” application level, the most rigorous option available.

The rationale for taking this step is the same for why we published our first report in 2003:  there will never be a time in the future when less is expected of global corporations. In the 11 years since our first report, this rationale has become manifest in thousands of daily interactions with our stakeholders.  More of our business customers are seeking sustainability information and demonstration of performance.  The same holds for consumers.  More investors are incorporating sustainability into their financial models.  More governments are raising the bar for both disclosure and action on environmental and social issues.  And more nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits are collaborating with us in novel, constructive ways.

We believe that maintaining a high level of transparency about our sustainability strategies and impacts is one of the most important things we can do to serve these diverse stakeholders.  Our primary vehicle to achieve this is through the publication of a comprehensive, independently assured annual sustainability report.  These reports represent how our company views, manages, and measures areas considered essential to responsible corporate citizenship in a global environment.

As a pioneer of the G4 guidelines, we encourage our stakeholders to read the 2013 UPS Corporate Sustainability Report when it is published on July 30th and let us know what they think, how they use the information we provide, and what we can do to improve in the future.  To learn more about the challenges we faced, please also see our additional blog post on this site, titled Three Perspectives on GRI G4 from One of the First US “Comprehensive” Reporters.

 Patrick Browne manages the global data collection and analysis process for the UPS sustainability report, including primary responsibility for assuring UPS’ comprehensive greenhouse gas reporting and assurance efforts.  Joe Monfort manages the UPS materiality assessment process and is responsible for the development of the annual sustainability report, including primary editorial responsibility.  For questions related to the report, please contact him at jmonfort@ups.com     



Category: Community, Environment, Sustainability, Today's UPS
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