Aiming at providing all stakeholders with consistent and thorough information on sustainability issues, AIA has been issuing the Corporate Responsibility Report on an annual basis since 2003.
Since the early engagement with CR reporting, AIA has adopted a systematic approach to measuring and reporting performance, in line with globally prevailing principles and standards. CR Reporting has been developed as a corporate governance system, following the generally accepted structure of control environment, risk assessment, controls, information provision and monitoring.
Initial engagement of the company with a data verification process for the CR Report commenced as of 2007.
The challenge was to provide our stakeholders with information that is adherent to international standards, accurate in terms of substantiation & verification and complete in terms of addressing the issues regarded as material by our stakeholders.
The objective was to adapt the assurance engagement towards a principles-based approach.
The objective was to adapt the entire CR reporting process towards a principles-based approach, enhancing confidence of stakeholders in our sustainability-related undertakings.
Emphasis was placed on enhancing the assurance process in order to generate added value. The objective was to go beyond verifying the transparency of our disclosures. The assurance engagement process was embedded in the internal continuous improvement cycle. The assurance partner is engaged during a three-month period every year. During that time our partner follows, verifies and identifies improvement potential not only concerning the outcome of our reporting process, but the actual sustainability processes them.
The management report submitted by the assurance partner (in addition to the assurance statement) is a driver for internal discussion amongst the Management for identifying and planning improvement actions. As an element of innovation among Greek sustainability reporters, AIA’s CR Report features a response to the Assurance Statement, marking the Company’s commitment to continuously improving the quality and value of sustainability reporting.
Action was taken to enhance the control environment. AIA’s Board of Directors has oversight of sustainability performance indicators as these are part of the Corporate Scorecard. As an element of novelty within the Greek market, the Board’s Audit Committee assumed an oversight role in relation to CR Reporting and the related assurance services.
One important aspect of the engagement with CR reporting is the need to track continuously changing guidelines or even regulation. Changes on standards have a significant impact on planning activities. One important lesson learned was the need to invest time and effort on building know-how internally rather than relying on external consulting, as is the practice for many companies. This proved to be particularly valuable as we manage to be on top of developments in a cost-efficient manner.
Another important aspect is the choice of assurance partner. As standards evolve rapidly from year to year, it is important that the selected assurance partner is continuously aware and aligned with emerging developments. Assurance needs to be a value-adding activity, going beyond the provision of an assurance statement.
AIA acknowledges the value of transparency in our corporate responsibility reporting process. Independent assurance of our alignment with international standards is an important aspect of this process. Furthermore, added value is generated from this engagement by identifying areas for improvement and pursuing related actions.
Our principles-based, value-driven and independently-verified corporate responsibility reporting serves the increasing interest of our stakeholders for efficient and transparent disclosures. In the context of reporting past performance and communicating the strategy for sustainable engagement, the CR report is a basis for dialogue with local communities.
CR reporting contributes to the general efforts of AIA for environmental awareness and for bringing forward issues of general concern (such as climate change and biodiversity). By communicating the CR Report to the local school system, we contribute to environmental education.
AIA’s Corporate Responsibility Report 2010: http://ebook.aia.gr/?id=162