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Integrate: Doing Business in the 21st Century, IIRC welcomes major milestones

As we near the end of 2013 and we have reached the point of releasing our framework, I am again humbled by the support, momentum and achievements the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has had to date. In the last six weeks, five of which I have been travelling across four continents in nine cities on 17 flights, it has been exciting to see that momentum continues for Integrated Reporting <IR>.

Attending the Confederation of Indian Industry Sustainability Summit in New Delhi, speaking at the World Federation of Exchanges General Assembly in Mexico City; the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development working group on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (UNCTAD ISAR) meetings in Geneva; the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Global Roundtable in Beijing, updating friends and engaging with those new to <IR> and finally, attending a meeting by invitation with the Australian Treasury to present our position paper for next year's Business 20 of the G20 Summit (B20/G20).

It has been an honour to be welcomed in so many places as we reach an important milestone for IIRC with the release of the International <IR> framework. At the same time, I also welcome the release of Integrate: Doing Business in the 21st Century, a book written by our chairman, Mervyn King and Leigh Roberts of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and member of our working group.

Integrate brings to life the four corporate tools that businesses should be using in the 2st 1century: stakeholder relationships, quality governance, integrated thinking and the integrated report. The book also offers the chance to see integrated reporting in practice as you follow the <IR> journey of four companies: Barloworld, Sasol, Gold Fields and Vodacom to understand the difficulties and successes that they have had to date.

As this book reveals, the relationship between business and society has changed substantially, yet the language used to communicate between the boardroom and the dealing room has remained surprising constant for at least the last seventy years. In short the language of business - corporate reporting - has not kept pace with the fundamental shift in the expectations of society, including the providers of financial capital, in this era of radical transparency.

In the mid-19th century, John Stuart Mill said that "language is the light of the mind", a powerful tool not just because of its role in shaping our perception of communities and cultures, but also because language influences the way we think and behave. It is this concept that goes to the heart of integrated reporting, which seeks not only to be the language of resilient business, but also to reveal the underlying integrated thinking that underpins business and investment decision making, shining a light into the collective mind of the Board.

For too long businesses have expressed themselves only in the narrow form of financial transactions, an exclusive form of communication that hides from view the rich seams of value that can be found in knowledge, intellect, natural resources and relationships. Integrated reporting provides the framework for a more holistic expression of business identity and value.
Charlemagne said that "to have a second language is to have a second soul", highlighting the intrinsic relationship between communication and thought. This is a book that will engage all the senses and, I hope, inspire its readers to champion a corporate reporting model that is fit for the 21st century.

The perfect present for any keen reader during the holiday season!

Paul's previous blog post
South African reflections on integrated reporting


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