There are a number of options for companies to gain Assurance of their ESG strategy
How to proceed with assurance initiatives very much depends on the framework under which you are seeking assurance or certification and your overall objectives. Speeki is a leader in ESG assurance initiatives and is growing our product suite in this area.
Speeki Europe is a certification body for certain management system standards. We can certify your programmes. A good example is anti-bribery and ISO 37001.
Speeki can also give assurances of certification based on the ISO Guidelines. A good example is Whistleblowing and ISO 37002.
Just like your financial reports being audited by an accounting firm, Speeki can audit your ESG reports and give a similar attestation of compliance. A good example will be compliance with GRI reporting standards.
If you are being certified by another group, Speeki can help with internal audits, readiness assessments and post audit rectification initiatives. An example might be a certification under ISO 27001 but you would like our help for internal audits.
Independent assurance requirements for your ESG reports are coming soon.
The EU's proposed European Corporate Sustainability Directive will require assurance over your ESG reports in the future. Much like a Financial report being audited, your ESG report will also need to be audited. It is still a little unclear on when, what and by whom, but the direction is already very clear.
You might want to start building your reports and to engage with a chosen auditor. The sooner you get moving the sooner you can iron out the issues and secure compliance.
It is also pretty clear that any evidence of greenwashing or misleading reporting will be acted upon both civilly and, potentially, criminally. You need to make sure that what you say is accurate and independently reviewed.
Assurance is an additional layer on top of your ESG initiatives. Working out how you build assurance into your ESG strategy will be important. Focus on your highest risk priorities.
Working with an assurance partner is a relationship of trust. It takes a long time to build that trust and we recommend starting early. Far better to build on your timeframe than a regulator imposed one.
There is likely to be some simple easy wins for assurance like a whistleblowing programme or anti-bribery certification. These will build your strength in building programmes and adding an assurance layer.
Pauline is the leader of our Assurance and Certifications business. Focused originally on ISO 37001 anti-bribery certifications, Pauline is now the lead for all assurance solutions across Speeki. She has a details-oriented and practical approach to helping companies prove the value of their ESG efforts to stakeholders through Assurance.
There is a growing push internationally for companies to have reviewed and assured their ESG reports and ESG statements. This follows the practice of financial reporting and adds another layer to ESG reporting. It is certainly a direction and is likely to be mandatory at least in certain areas very soon.
Most assurance is done by experts in both the content areas, auditing and assurance. The process of assurance gives a great deal of benefit to highlight gaps, non-conformities and areas to improve. It is often an inexpensive way of driving improvement in a system by receiving feedback and recommendations.
An independent verification of a system adds value because it is perceived (accurately) as being more reliable, robust and stronger to withstand potential issues. The impact of non-conformities is often managed better from an assured or certified system because the system detects issues earlier and manages rehabilitation.
Gaining a certification against a recognised standard is the ultimate in compliance. It shows not only compliance but also a willingness to improve and strive for higher levels of achievement.
The risk of failure is reduced when a system has been reviewed, audited and certified according to a standard by an expert content provider. A reduction in risk means a reduction in costs, remediation and likely fines or litigation. Assurance adds a layer to your programme that strengthens it and thereby reduces risk.
At least when it applies to management system certifications under ISO, there is a three cycle of certification. The mere fact that a company undergoes a certification means they have adapted a management system for a longer duration and are likely committed to levels of improvement over a 'one shot' audit or review.