According to the integrated reporting <IR> Framework, integrated reporting presupposes integrated thinking. The integrated report should reflect the status and outlook of processes, systems, achievements and plans for holistic value creation. However, whereas there are well-developed frameworks to guide integrated reporting, the process for the adoption and embedment of sustainable and responsible business practice is less well defined. As a result, the depth of integrated thinking frequently lags the messaging of the integrated report.
Through its integrated and sustainability reporting service offering, Trialogue has experienced first-hand the problems that emerge when integrated thinking is not embedded into an organisation. In response, Trialogue developed a framework to assist organisations in integrating sustainability and responsible business practice within their strategy, decision-making and business operations.
The framework can be applied as a gap analysis tool, based on public reporting, or through additional engagement with a business. The analysis serves to identify levels of adoption and to frame a roadmap for advancing integrated thinking practices. This can be set out as a sustainability strategy and roadmap that combines aspirations, priorities, capacity and resources, and timelines. It also enables a company to identify ‘quick wins’ and make conscious choices about where practices are to be improved and over which time period.
The framework is built on five principles and associated indicators.
The business case for integrated thinking
In April 2021, Trialogue and the Chartered Governance Institute of Southern Africa (CGISA) held a webinar that explored unlocking the potential of integrated thinking, going beyond compliance and applying it holistically within an organisation.