Coca-Cola’s Integrated Thinking: Does an integrated report need to be one report?

26 Nov 2018 1:39 PM | Larry Yu (Administrator)

Integrated (adjective)
1. Combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole.

Jamal Booker began presenting Coca-Cola’s approach to reporting with a disclaimer: “We actually do not do an official integrated report.” He then explained, “But our approach to reporting is very much integrated. Our business is certainly integrated, as well, so the way we report out is actually a report out on our integrated business.” Indeed, in many ways, Coca-Cola’s approach to reporting is more integrated – and more effective – than others.

Booker, Reporting Manager of the Global Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability function at the Coca-Cola Company, described to the <IR> US Community on November 14, 2018 how Coca-Cola issues two reports: a short Annual Review and a Sustainability Report. They’re published months apart, in part because the data that feeds into the Sustainability Report are not all available in time for the Annual Review. The reports together represent the company’s integrated thinking, serving as chapters one and two of the same reporting story.

That story begins with stakeholder engagement. Communities, NGOs, investors and other stakeholders across the world have told Coca-Cola they need to hear more about how companies are responding to global trends. Not just consumer trends, but also how different social and environmental trends, gender equality and water sustainability, for example, are connected to Coca-Cola’s core business.

Coca-Cola is a global company, but global trends affect different parts of the world in different ways. Sustainable business in Latin America look very different than in South Asia, for example, and, Booker says, group presidents are expected to have their own perspectives on sustainability in their respective businesses. So Coca-Cola’s online sustainability map gives you the chance to drill deeper into the specific region and issue you might be interested in. Visibility at the local level provides a finer-grained look at how the company is managing risks.

This is one way that Coca-Cola uses digital tools more than most in giving its Sustainability Report local granularity. This year’s report also marks an evolution from previous reports, according to Booker, in telling a more consistent story across reports. One important marker of that shift: one design for both reports, with one writer drafting them both. The “stories” underlying Coca-Cola’s reporting can be linked to from either report.

That reflects the kind of integrated thinking the IIRC refers to, when it writes:

“<IR> is a process founded on integrated thinking that results in a periodic integrated report by an organization about value creation over time and related communications regarding aspects of value creation.

“An integrated report is a concise communication about how an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value in the short, medium and long term.”

On the other hand, Coca-Cola’s two reports are not a single report, as the IIRC describes an integrated report. So is Coca-Cola's an “integrated report?” We’ll leave that to you to decide. And when you do, share your perspective with us in the comments below.


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