G4 Guidelines Regarding Social Aspects. A study of listed companies at Nasdaq OMX Stockholm on social aspects

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: Background and Problem Discussion: For an entity to achieve a sustainable development, it is necessary in order to deliver simultaneously economic, social, and environmental benefits. Through sustainability reporting, the companies attempt to respond to stakeholders’ expectations, pressures and criticisms. GRI is a useful tool, which has developed a commonly accepted framework towards sustainability reporting practices. In general, these reporting tools aim to improve the firms’ image and social legitimacy. The latest version of GRI is G4, which was initiated in May 2013. According to this new version, the published reports should be prepared in accordance to G4 Guidelines after 31 December 2015. As G4 is a new tool and phenomenon, our motive for writing this thesis is to further explore this new tool regarding social aspects.Purpose and Research Questions: The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether the large Swedish companies listed at Nasdaq OMX Stockholm follow the G4 Guidelines regarding Social Aspects. The research questions are:1. Which are the early adopters of the new framework in Sweden and what are the key changes and developments regarding the Social Aspects between G3/G3.1 and G4 by these adopters?2. What are the motives for these early adopters to report in accordance to G4 in 2013?3. How do the early adopters interpret these new Guidelines?Methodology: Our thesis is based on the qualitative approach by including seven large Swedish companies listed at Nasdaq Stockholm. Our findings are the results of the conducted interviews, the provided information in companies’ Annual Report or Sustainability Report, and the collected literature.Result and Conclusion: The early adopters of fully implemented G4 in 2013 in Sweden are BK, H&M, ICA, JM, Loomis, Peab, Tele2, and Swedbank. There are some changes and developments regarding Social Aspects in G4. Some new aspects and indicators are added in G4, which are not reported by the conducted companies, and also these companies less report on the developed aspects. There are many motives for the early adaptation of G4. G4’s main focal point is materiality aspect and stakeholder’s focus. Responded companies have implemented G4 due to their involvement in materiality analysis and stakeholder’s dialogues from previous year. Another motive to move to G4 is that there are no substantial changes from the old to the new GRI tool. Further, for legitimate purpose organizations are motivated to implement this new tool so fast. Also, the experiences and the expert knowledge of the professionals in the area of sustainability of these companies motivate them to move to G4. The majority of the interviewees are positive towards this latest tool.

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