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Novozymes

The first known company to produce an integrated report was the Danish industrial biotechnology company Novozymes. The second page of the company's compact 108-page 2002 annual report simply declares: "Integrated annual report, Environmental and Social Report."7 In his CEO Statement,8 President and CEO Steen Riisgaard declared:

Three bottom lines for future annual reports

This year and in future years Novozymes publishes a combined annual report with information on the areas that we believe to be most important for the majority of our stakeholders. This report is an integrated financial, environmental, and social report that also focuses on knowledge and the economic significance of our business. Our decision to bring everything together in one report is a natural consequence of business and sustainability moving ever closer together, and of various stakeholders asking for a wider overview of the business. We have chosen to keep the printed report relatively short and publish more detailed information on CD-ROM and on the Internet. We plan to expand this in-depth reporting for specific target groups in the coming years. Happy reading!

Riisgaard's use of the term "combined report," in contrast to the label, "integrated report," on the second page raised a debate that continues to this day. Although the degree to which interdependencies between financial and ESG performance must be disclosed to earn the title "integrated report" remains contentious, most parties would distinguish between a "combined report" that merely contains information on ESG performance and an "integrated report" insofar as the latter provides this information in a way that shows the relationships between them. Novozymes' integrated report was driven by the now-familiar themes of sustain ability's increasing centrality to business success and the rising importance of stakeholders. Both issues point to the question, still being debated today, of exactly whom the audience for an integrated report should be.

Introducing the distinction between an integrated report and integrated reporting, Riisgaard pointedly noted the brevity of this 2002 integrated report, saying that supplementary information could be found on Novozymes' website. Integrated reporting both enables more detailed disclosure to specific stakeholders and more "real time" disclosures, albeit not necessarily in the format of a formal "report."

While it is clear that Novozymes' 2002 report was more combined than integrated, the progressive nature of its nonfinancial performance disclosures and consideration of noninvestor stakeholders demonstrate that the company had begun to build the foundation for a truly integrated report. In addition to revealing performance on a number of environmental and social indicators, the report presented a section titled "Knowledge as a strategic resource," which discussed process and technology, innovations, and the aggressive patenting of results. Also addressed were customer needs and organizational and employee development.9 In considering these issues, Novozymes anticipated the intangible assets or "capitals" of intellectual, human, and social and relationship that feature prominently in "International <IR> Framework" (<IR> Framework) published by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) in December 2013.

In its commitment to better integration of social10 and environmental11 issues into the development of its overall strategic objectives, Novozymes arguably laid a foundation for exploring how environmental and social performance are linked to business success—and thus, integrated reporting. To do so, the company used GRI's G2 Guidelines as a basis for its Triple Bottom Line reporting,12 indicating that GRI was involved with integrated reporting from the movement's inception and in the very early days of GRI itself. Although the term "materiality" was not mentioned in the report, the company established a 2003 goal to "Explore and implement new approaches to stakeholder engagement."13

 
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