This COP needs more cred

Almost a year ago to this day, I wrote a blog here called, Has the UNGC jumped the gun?, about the newly launched guidelines for UNGC’s Advanced Level Communication on Progress (COP). Guess what? They had.

To be truthful, part of my frustration was over the UNGC’s off-kilter mid-February timing. In the last phases of a pressing reporting season, I wasn’t in the mood for having the rules changed.

Like I stated last year, the UNGC Advanced Level COP was half thought-through. It should have been better aligned with GRI’s 3.1 guidelines and taken tools like the Ruggie ‘Protect, respect and remedy’ framework into stronger account. But they didn’t. As a result, the UNGC has been playing a game of catch up. They issued two versions of the Advanced Level COP – and at least two additional corrections – over the span of one reporting cycle!

The UNGC’s second iteration, effective in January, 2012, involves an overhaul of their 24 criteria to closer align with core UN and Global Compact resources, including Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Anti-Corruption Reporting Guidance as well as with GRI indicators. Like GRI’s 3.1, it now has Ruggie written all over it.

There are strong arguments to support the fact that the UNGC should have extended their launch into 2013. Companies are waiting for GRI to issue version 4.0 of their guidelines. There is little reason give the Advanced Level COP much heed when they don’t know how the GRI will change in only a year’s time. Especially when you look at the UNGC’s fickle track record of the last year.

Are continually revised reporting guidelines tearing your hair out? With the UNGC Advanced Level COP guidelines in its second iteration, with just as many corrections in ten months, the UNGC is not demonstrating the excellence that they expect of their reporters.

If this COP is to gain any cred, it has to get its act together. The UNGC has to better understand the huge undertaking reporting is for multinationals. For the serious companies, it consumes a major part of the sustainability budget, and takes many months of production and preparation and is a complicated apparatus for data analysis and collecting best practice. If the UNGC is reaching for excellence among its signatories, it will have to demonstrate the same level of ambition themselves.

Maybe UNGC will be able to answer a few of these questions at their webinar scheduled for Friday, March 23. I’ll be listening in – I hope you will too!