Sustainability reporting according to the GRI Standards

The stakeholders of a Swiss law firm expressed a demand for a sustainability report. The increase in demand for such a report is a modern development as sustainability gains more and more importance. According to our client, few law firms have published a sustainability report to this day.

Martina Hespelt & Cornelia Spillmann, 2020

Bachelor Thesis, Lenz & Staehelin
Betreuende Dozierende: Jacqueline Haverals
Keywords: Sustainability Report, law firm, GRI Standards, GRI-referenced, Reporting
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To meet the demand of their stakeholders, the objective of the assignment of our client is to create a concise first sustainability report by applying the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards. GRI is a non-profit organisation that provides organisations with sets of standards for reporting on an organisation’s economic, social, and environmental impacts. The bachelor thesis outlines the report preparation process and answers the research question regarding the identified key learnings and potential suggestions for improvement for future sustainability reporting.
The main approach on reporting on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the Swiss law firm was to follow the methodologies proposed by the GRI Standards. To identify the most relevant topics for a law firm, a comparison of seven different sustainability reports of service firms was conducted and the development of a decision and materiality matrix supported the consideration of all stakeholders and the sustainability context. To disclose transparent information on the selected topics, the collection of data required close collaboration between the client and the students.
During the report preparation process, certain adjustments were made to the initially proposed approach to ensure a high-quality report. The reasons for the adjustments were a lack of data, the compliance to our client’s requirements, and the focus on the stakeholder's interest. Due to these adjustments and the experiences made, we identified key learnings and suggestions for improvement for our client. Owing to the major adjustment of changing the reporting claim to a GRI-referenced report, we identified the fundamental key learning to decide on the reporting approach prior to any data collection. A GRI-referenced report offers the possibility to omit certain requirements of the GRI Standards and hence, allow for concise sustainability reporting. Ensuring proper data collection during the reporting period is another key learning as the relevant data had to be collected retrospectively. By enhancing their positive impact on social, environmental, and economic topics, our client can enhance the sustainability report. Thus, the thesis also includes suggestions for improvement to become more sustainable as an organisation.
Studiengang: Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)
Fachbereich der Arbeit: Strategie, Marketing & Kommunikation
Vertraulichkeit: vertraulich
Art der Arbeit
Bachelor Thesis
Lenz & Staehelin, Zurich
Autorinnen und Autoren
Martina Hespelt & Cornelia Spillmann
Betreuende Dozierende
Jacqueline Haverals
Sprache der Arbeit
Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)
Standort Studiengang
Sustainability Report, law firm, GRI Standards, GRI-referenced, Reporting