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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.

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website gothamjazz.com and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.

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