IPR steps up work on non-financial reports

The IPR is stepping up its lobbying of the Government over plans to bring in compulsory non-financial reporting.

The DTI's Review of Company Law, which ended in July, proposed a new Operating and Financial Review (OFR).

This is now the subject of a Government White Paper and could become law next year.

It is intended that the OFR will include reporting on social, ethical, environmental and reputational issues.

At the IPR's 'Dialogue and Disclosure' conference last week, president Jon Aarons presented research on reputation reporting. He said the proposed OFR 'presents a tremendous opportunity for the PR industry to rationalise our role in the management of corporate strategy'.

IPR policy head Nigel O'Connor estimated there are currently around '50 to 60' different measurement standards of non-financial reporting, such as the AA1000 or the Association of British Insurers' guidelines.

He said one standard was needed to enable consumers and shareholders to compare firms' performance.

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents to the MORI survey said stakeholders were becoming 'ever more interested' in non-financial reporting.

Eighty-three per cent of respondents currently report on non-financial issues, with the results commonly integrated into annual reports.

However, exactly half the respondents rejected compulsory non-financial reporting.

So far the IPR's lobbying on the issue of non-financial reporting has revolved around responding to DTI consultation papers over the past two years.

O'Connor expects a phased introduction of the OFR on a staggered basis between 2003 and 2008.

Seventy comms directors from FTSE quoted firms took part in the survey by MORI.

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