On 11 July, in collaboration with the FRC, we brought together over 80 participants for an innovation summit. It was a design-led event to engage delegates in a safe and creative space to discuss how reporting could be relevant to the needs of 21st century economy and society. We saw this as a unique opportunity to reflect on how organisations should communicate and engage, and to articulate practical steps for taking new ideas forward.
A bit of soul food
To get the creative juices flowing, we began the day with some provocations. We heard about the most recent British Social Attitudes study (which showed, amongst other things, that the British public would welcome more regulation of big business!). BBC journalist Susannah Streeter spoke about what information is used to ensure that a business story is newsworthy and Reverend Baughen spoke about soulful companies.
We challenged the audience to consider the stakeholders of corporate reporting.
The exercise asked each table of participants to develop a series of personas and then think about what type of information they wanted from companies. The highlight of the session was one table’s invention of Shirley, a Chicken Processing worker, who made repeated reappearances throughout the rest of the day. Although Alana is probably closer to the SG hearts.
Reporting we have a problem?
The tables then developed some specific reporting challenges and opportunities they felt needed to be worked on. These were then voted on by the rest of the
Food for thought
Having voted to work on six problems in the afternoon, the attendees were treated to a working lunch with six presentations from groups including the IIRC, CDSB, CIPD and others designed to focus on how innovation can work in a reporting context.
The afternoon was centred on developing solutions to the problems identified in the morning. This was a challenging part of the day, and there was much discussion and debate around what the problems were and who should solve them. The groups then came back together to listen to two-minute pitches from each group on their solution and what the next steps were. While many of the ideas focused on gathering more information there were kernels of real innovation.
Wrapping it all together
We ended the day with a panel session which featured representatives from EY, Blacksun, ICAEW, the Lab and a Blockchain expert. The mood of the audience was positive, and all identified that wider stakeholders had needs that were not being met by the current system. It was seen as a constructive step that the FRC and ICAEW accepted the need to have a conversation and engage the wider community in the solutions. However, the difficulty of the challenge was also noted and while some saw a simple solution being that the FRC should produce more regulation to drive change, most saw that there needed to be collective, market-led collaboration.