From The Korean Times, June 1, 2017

By Jhoo Dong-chan

World-renowned expert stresses social contribution of firms

Back-scratching relations between politics and business have come to the fore once again as the nation’s top conglomerates are suspected of having offered bribes in exchange for favors from the Park Geun-hye administration.

Against this backdrop, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Chief Executive Timothy J. Mohin said companies’ sustainable growth depends on their transparency and social contribution, not on good relationships with political power.

“An increasing number of EU companies are required to disclose their internal information to help understand and communicate their impact on issues such as climate change, human rights and corruption based on an international standard,” he said in a recent interview with The Korea Times.

“Firms’ No. 1 priority had been their financial value in the past. Now, public attention for their contributions to the environment and society has become very important. Jobseekers do not chase for money anymore. They want to work for a firm that shares their specific values. They would not want to work for such companies
that do not fully respond to social causes.”

Mohin added that the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines have been revised several times to set a global standard that help individuals, firms and governments understand sustainability of each evaluated object.

Of the global top 250 companies, 74 percent are using the GRI guidelines. Many Korean firms also use the guidelines along with ISO26000.

Despite the business-friendly and conservative Trump administration that came into office in the U.S., Mohin believes such trends of disclosing firms’ information about their sustainability will prevail.

No matter how conservative the Trump administration is or no matter how liberal the Moon administration is, he said, “Companies, especially larger ones, are continuously asked to remain transparent and open to such information.”

“Their responses to social causes should be constantly discussed as social agenda. AMD’s semiconductor production is very intense causing environmental and health issues. Such issues are included in the report to help understand their sustainability.”

GRI and U.N. Global Compact, with the involvement of other strategic partners, are leading the global effort to shape the business community’s contributions to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.