Non-financial reporting [page 21-22]
“Implements Principle 3d
Reporting on the activities of large companies works to the benefit not only of business partners and shareholders, but also other stakeholders. With this in mind, companies are increasingly reporting not only on their financial position, but so on the non-financial aspects of their operations. Information on the impacts that companies’ operations have on the environment, social aspects, human rights and the protection thereof is disclosed in separate non-financial reports or as part of the annual report.
Many companies already engage in non-financial reporting entirely voluntarily because this is regarded as a matter of prestige and an opportunity to improve their market position. Nevertheless, the European Union, having decided to coordinate non-financial information, has issued a Non-financial Reporting Directive. [Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups.]
The non-financial reports drawn up by certain large entities could become an important tool for transparency. The auditor examines whether an entity has drawn up non-financial information and disclosed it in the annual report or consolidated annual report, or whether it has produced a separate report. As non-financial reporting shoulders entities with a heavier administrative burden and extra costs, it is not compulsory for smaller entities, who will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to publish a non-financial report.
Current state of play:
- The Czech Republic has transposed the Non-financial Reporting Directive into Act No 563/1991 on accounting (in particular Part Eight thereof). Non-financial information will be disclosed by large public-interest entities with more than 500 employees. Information on respect for human rights will be a mandatory part of the report.
- The European Commission (DG FISMA [Directorate‑General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union]) has produced general guidelines for businesses on how to apply the Non-financial Reporting Directive.
- Publish the European Commission’s general guidelines on the websites of the National CSR Portal, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance, and in Finanční zpravodaj (“Financial Bulletin”).
Coordinator: Ministry for Human Rights, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Finance
Deadline: 31 December 2017
- Provide information on the guidelines as part of training courses or in guidance and informational materials on non-financial reporting.
Coordinator: Ministry of Finance
Transparency [page 37-38]
“The Guiding Principles set great store by openness and transparency, which in practice means communication with the public, with employees and with other stakeholders. Businesses should make public the fact that they are mindful of their responsibility, that they are not just assuming this responsibility for show, and that they accept it as part of their business ethics. This ongoing communication could include not only the public, but also investors, business partners and potential employees, for whom the business, by following this path, has become a more attractive partner or place to work. Communication may be one way (e.g. various forms of non-financial reporting) or bidirectional (e.g. public hearings on matters of general interest).
The Government of the Czech Republic recommends that businesses where the activities, products, services or business relationships are associated with risks of serious human rights violations formally provide information on how they are dealing with those risks, even in situations where the law does not require them to do so. The government recommends all companies reporting on human rights to take account of the Reporting Framework for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Reporting should provide information of relevance without overwhelming the reader. The Government also recommends that large-scale projects with a potential major impact be publicly presented and consulted.”
Voluntary non-financial reporting [page 38-39]
“In the European Union, large companies are required to publish certain non-financial information, including information on human rights matters. Small businesses, however, may report voluntarily, especially if they are active in sectors or in countries where there is a heightened risk of encroachment on human rights. Transparency is highly self-regulatory and makes it easier to appoint a responsible person in complex corporate structures. It enables a business to evaluate and map out risks, while making it clear to the public that the company does not underestimate them.
What should be included in a report? Human rights standards, as opposed to financial reporting, which is governed by sophisticated and internationally reputed respected standards, are still inchoate. Even so, the following information should not be left out of a report:
- Whether a human rights commitment has been made, how it has been devised, whose rights it affects, how it is communicated, and whether and how responsibility for compliance is addressed within the business.
- A specification of key issues, i.e. areas viewed by the company as operationally risky, or in which it is most involved. Information about how such issues have been identified and, if the company has operations in multiple countries, information as to which countries are affected.
- Information on how these risks are addressed and what measures have been taken.
- Significant events that have occurred in the past year.
A business may publish periodic non-financial reports in numerous forms, either as part of the annual report or entirely separately. In any case, they should be posted online on the business’s website. The non-financial report should not be drawn up just for show, but should shed light on significant information relevant to an impact assessment of the business’s operations. On the other hand, it should remain brief and concentrate on matters of relevance. Parent companies should include information on the activities of their subsidiaries.
Human rights commitments cannot always be assessed with precision. Businesses should retain the option of evaluating commitments according to their own internal schemes and criteria. Nevertheless, where possible standardised indicators, including historical developments, should be used. The application of internationally acknowledged standards for non-financial reporting is recommended. These include:
- Non-financial reporting standards based on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- Global Reporting Initiative, an independent international organisation specialising in the reporting of the impacts of business operations in the fields of human rights, the environment and corruption
- Integrated Reporting (IR)”