Using reporting to drive integrated thinking

21 February, 2019

We recently hosted an introductory course in integrated thinking for our clients and a few colleagues. What we learned was quite inspiring – over the last eight years, the gap between “better practice disclosure” and corporate communication is closing fast.

A business’ social licence to operate and its role in sustainable value creation are genuinely being elevated to the Board’s agenda in the United Kingdom now, there’s no question about it. With recent legislative nudges such as the secondary legislation on Section 172 – directors’ duties, as well as UK Financial Reporting Council’s Update to the Corporate Governance Code and Guidance on the Strategic Report, it’s clear that business is co-operating and heading towards the same place that integrated reporting is: better, more transparent corporate disclosure about value in all its forms.

Black Sun sees the International <IR> Framework as a tool to support disclosure. Issues like purpose, values, culture, and stakeholder engagement. The <IR> Framework doesn’t promote a tick-box approach to reporting, but rather encourages a business to ask questions of itself, questions that help it uncover the core of its value creation process and then to use communication as a mechanism for disclosure to build trust.

In addition to learning about the business benefits, such as improved organizational alignment and better information for board decision-making, participants of Black Sun’s training courses learn how to begin approaching the challenges associated with introducing integrated thinking to their business.

This is particularly relevant for anyone involved in reporting or governance today, grappling with the challenging communication issues such as corporate purpose. The course prompts attendees to focus on the integrated thinking process itself and what is most important about it – developing integrated management.

People usually assume that the report is where value is derived, when in fact the process of developing integrated management is where the true value lies for business. When integrated thinking emerges, new opportunities for efficiency, alignment and profitability become clear. Every year, the corporate communication examples we showcase in our training courses get better and better. It’s reassuring to see companies disclosing more relevant information about value, purpose and tangible details about their impact in the world beyond the financials.

The courses offered by Black Sun are accredited by the IIRC and are pitched at beginner and practitioner levels, allowing corporates of varying proficiencies to enhance their communication and reporting tools in a value-focused environment.

Black Sun has a strong reputation for guiding better practice communications. We delivered the 13th annual research report on the reporting practices of FTSE 100 companies earlier this year. This research, titled “Less perfection, more authenticity”, is one of a number of research documents produced under the agency’s “Horizon Series” research, each designed to give business insight into the state of corporate communication in a particular area and what is expected to be “next practice”.

We are proud to be associated with the IIRC and have supported the principles of the <IR> Framework since its inception. We manage hundreds of better practice reporting examples on the database to help stimulate thinking. This database is coordinated in partnership with the IIRC and can be accessed here.

Black Sun has years of international experience and has worked with hundreds of clients from diverse industries on their journey towards better disclosure. With 13 years of research insight, strong ties to industry bodies and close corporate relationships, we know what good communication looks like – and we know how to help you deliver it. Get in touch with us at