Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Opens US Office with an Assist from the Big Four

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a pioneering corporate sustainability reporting standard that has emerged as the most important de facto CSR reporting framework, will open its first US office in New York City the organization announced in a press release.

The Amsterdam-based organization will use its new North American shop to launch “Focal Point USA,” an initiative that seeks to “to boost the number of US companies reporting on sustainability in a consistent manner, to improve the quality of those reports, and to increase US organizations’ input into developing new guidelines for sustainability reporting.”

As an interesting sub-heading, the GRI has also announced that the “Big Four” US accounting firms — Deloitte, Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG and PwC U.S — will be underwriting the endeavor during the first two years.

GRI reporting has long been more widely pursued in Europe than in the United States, so the strategic business move certainly makes sense. What is less clear however, is how the GRI will be able to encourage voluntary corporate actors to adopt its social and environmental reporting standards. Indeed, while CSR reporting in the US is up across the board (even in a murky growth period), the trend has shifted away from third party guidelines to firm’s creating their own data points and benchmarks for reporting.

However, it’s certain that the blue chip accounting firms see CSR consulting as a business win, and alignment with the GRI enhances their ability to win corporate sustainability contracts.