Sustainability Report Analysis

Published: 2021/12/28
Number of words: 2662

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent non-profit organisation that seeks to promote social, economic, and environmental sustainability (Gökten and Marşap 2017). It creates a common language for the organisations and stakeholders, enhancing transparency and accountability in sustainability reports. APA Group and Origin Energy corporations are among the top organisations that give their annual sustainability reports in Australia for transparency and accountability. Their 2021 sustainability reports incorporate data comparison with previous years, in-progress projects and forecasting their future endeavours in sustainability. Similarly incorporated are the reports of success and challenges faced in its strategy implementation due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The GRI standards in the sustainability reports are based on the outlined reporting principles, which act as a guiding tool for organisations to craft their sustainable reports. These principles help organisations define report content and quality, which are the main categories of reporting principles. This report will examine APA Group and Origin Energy corporations’ 2021 sustainability report disclosures and their level of adherence to GRI standards.

Comparability and Variance


In shareholder inclusiveness, both APA Group and Origin Energy identified their stakeholders in the 2021 sustainability report. Since they are in the same gas pipeline industry, they have similar stakeholders: the customers, investors, the environment, communities and employees. Through engagement programs, these organisations connect with the stakeholders at a personal level. APA Group reported that its energy charter responsible for providing better consumer energy outcomes contributed to better practice landholder and community engagement guide. It invested in sponsorship and donations, employee-driven initiatives and employee volunteering programs.

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Consequently, through the community and social performance, the organisation strengthens the communities by providing reliable energy based on positive mindfulness of stakeholders, relationships to ensure success. On the other hand, through the origin energy foundation, Origin energy engaged the regional suppliers by spending $ 270 million and engaged the local communities by investing $1.36 million to support the programs and events (Organic Energy, 2021). Thus, these organisations’ shareholder inclusiveness reflects the reporting principles as they describe their stakeholders; provide outcomes drawn from the stakeholder engagement processes consistent with the material topics included in the reports.

Environmental protection is the main factor that both organisations strive to protect in their sustainability report. Climate change is addressed in broader contexts as demanded in the reporting principles. Carbon gas emissions are a threat to global warming worldwide, and these organisations acknowledge their contributions as part of the larger society to lower their productions through adopting better measures. APA Group aims to achieve net-zero operations emissions by 2050 with targets in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (APA Group, 2021). Apart from the Net Zero Ambition, other established programs that strive to make this dream possible include the climate transformation program, pathfinder program and climate change management framework.

Similarly, Origin Energy commitment to provide safe energy for consumers, like APA Group, is aligned with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It reported a reduction of Scope 1 and Scope 2 by 8% in comparison to 2020. The organisation promotes solar, Electrical Vehicles and renewable hydrogen opportunities to counter carbon gas emissions. Similarly, it plans to offset Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions in its Beetaloo exploration by purchasing the Australian carbon credit units. In line with the reporting principle of report content, their sustainability content describes their long-term environmental strategies to make the environment a better and safe place for society.

Correspondingly, the organisations present both qualitative and quantitative data in their sustainability reports which align with the principles of completeness. Both organisations portray clarity and details by providing assessments In the qualitative data reports and their business success evaluation criteria. For instance, the organisations provide data on methods to engage the community members, timelines, challenges and success in community engagement. This method is effective in guiding stakeholders as it incorporates high levels of clarity and transparency. Additionally, their sustainability reports incorporate images to add value to the qualitative data, making it easy for stakeholders to understand the message effectively through visual analysis. Incorporating visual elements enhances the clarity of the reports by adhering to the reporting principles demands that it should be accessible to all stakeholders, even those with differing abilities.

On the other hand, Qualitative data is presented in the form of statistics in graphs, charts, tables and within the qualitative data fostering high levels of accuracy and completeness. Hence, accuracy is enhanced by indicating estimated data, underlying assumptions, and the measurable inclusion of data. Their reports do not have relevant omissions, which may hinder stakeholders’ influences on assessments and decisions.

The sustainability reports take into accounts the interests and expectations of the stakeholders in the organisations. Matters that are of importance are given priority. In both organisations, climate change is a priority because it affects all different spheres of society. While the organisations adopt different strategies to counter the adverse effects, one common priority ground is eliminating carbon gas emissions. Additionally, local community engagement is another key priority addressed by both organisations to give back to society. Financial investments in sports, education and other related projects aimed at improving the welfare of the people are given extra importance in the reports. These investments are primarily tailored to help the local community deal with issues like poverty which curtails their success and ultimately affects economic productivity.


In materiality, Organic Energy differs from APA Group in that it embraces a deeper value in its workforce, fostering diversity. It uses the Australian workplace Equality Index (AWEI) as its external benchmark in accepting LGBTQIA + Colleagues. This inclusion ensures that all employees are comfortable and eliminates discrimination instances that affect employees’ productivity. The organisation has immense support from the Pride@Origin committee, which provides a safe, supportive and inclusive workplace. Moreover, Organic Energy provides paid leave for employees who need time to reflect on their gender affirmation. As a result, Organic Energy adheres to the reporting principles by considering both the internal and external factors that lead to social impacts such as discrimination at workplaces.

On the other hand, APA Group adopts a more realistic material sustainability approach through an assessment which leads to areas of priority such as safety, health and wellbeing, people and culture and inclusion and diversity. The assessment relied on international recognised sustainability frameworks of external scanning trends, shareholder consultations and customer benchmarking. Stakeholder consultation is a major strength in APA as it gives an opportunity for a wide range of ideas and feelings of inclusivity which fosters feelings of loyalty. This roadmap to suitability captures both internally and externally, which is appropriate for capturing economic, social and environmental issues in the society.

While the organisations’ reports feature decarbonisation strategies, Organic Energy incorporates a complete version with good timelines. Its report has short-term, mid-term and long-term strategies to guide the organisation in properly implementing the strategic goals. By 2032, the organisation seeks to have its Scope 1 and Scope two gases on an equity share basis, while in the short run, it seeks to decrease the emissions by 10 % for each consecutive year. Thus, the organisation considers its impact on the climate through the gas emissions leaked into the environment and pursues realistic ventures in countering the adverse effects. Moreover, the report considers reasonable estimates in the prediction of its future impacts on the environment.

Correspondingly, APA Group has a more in-depth strategy of ensuring stakeholders inclusivity than Organic Energy based on the governance structure. The APA Board ensures strong governance and risk management, translating to better decisions and stakeholders inclusivity. The board of committee has several committees specifically designed to handle matters relating to all fields of operations. This delegation is important as it ensures that the relevant stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process. Also, it makes it easy for the organisation to establish its stakeholders with whom it’s accountable for fulfilling its mandate as an organisation. Furthermore, the sustainability reports draw informed conclusions from stakeholders’ engagement which makes them credible.

APA Group Sustainability Strategies

Analysis using Accounting Theories

Sustainability at APA is about engaging in responsible business practices that positively impact society. The main strategic goal in sustainability is to use resources responsibly to avoid compromising future needs. In pursuit of this goal, APA engages in several strategies that aim at improving the welfare of the organisation, its stakeholders and the global environment. Nevertheless, implementing those strategies requires constant scrutiny to ensure those entrusted with their individual goals are aligned with the organisation’s goals. Institutional, legitimacy, agency and contract theories effectively lead to sustainability strategies (Patty et al., 2021). These accounting theories provide a guiding framework for organisations in their sustainable strategy development.

Agency theory postulates that organisations tend to disclose more information voluntarily to counter extra costs through delegation of responsibilities. The Risk Management System (RMS) is a strategy employed by APA to ensure effective management and decision-making. RMS identifies risks in the form of environmental, social, governance and climate change. Hence, due to the sensitivity of this goal, the board of committee delegates this role to the Audit and risk management committee. This delegation is based on Agency theory which identifies possible problems between the managers and the owners, leading to conflicts. By entrusting a committee with the role, the organisation prevents horizon problems, dividend retention and risk aversion. Besides, to overcome risk aversion, as the agency theory postulates, APA measures improvements in maturity by the annual completion of the risk scorecard. Thus, the organisation incorporates corporate governance policies, which can change how the committee operates and restore the initial organisation’s interests in the event of deviation.

Consequently, the gas pipeline industry is established based on negotiation and agreement. This tendency makes it possible for the existence of contractual arrangements that careful balance risks and returns between investors in the production assets and pipeline assets. APA’s sustainability strategies on lowering carbon gas emissions and energy transition reported joining Hunter Hydrogen Network (H2N) through its pathfinder program. As the contract theory claims, to reduce agency costs, a contract is required to monitor the company and the implementation of the sustainability strategy. The contractual relationship between APA and H2N is a bilateral-agreed foundation contract that provides a fair balance of cost, revenue and risk-sharing.

The organisational culture highly influences APA’s community and stakeholder engagement sustainability strategy. According to the institutional theory, perceptions of legitimate behaviour can be derived from cultural values and the organisation’s traditions. At APA, their trust and confidence are derived from listening to their stakeholders, considering and responding to their feedback. APA’s management has a comprehensive strategy for this community engagement which includes Stakeholder advisory panel and a community and social performance plan. Applying this theory in the organisation is beneficial in the long run as all stakeholders are bound to understand this notion as being inherent in the organisational culture. Furthermore, it’s effective in creating a good reputation and enhancing the corporate image in society.

Similarly, according to the legitimacy theory, an organisation should fulfil its social contract to realise its objectives. APA has a social responsibility of giving back to society through local community empowerment, providing safe energy and protecting the environment. In its 2021 report, the organisation reported that it was ranked the 8th most popular intern employer. This reputable social image accrues from fulfilling its social contract to the local community by giving back, just like employing the young graduates to equip them with necessary life skills. Additionally, it gives APA a competitive advantage compared to other similar organisations that fail to fulfil their social contracts. The legitimacy theory outlines that an organisation influences the community in its operation. Its legality of actions is perceived as having a fair impact on the internal and external environment. APA’s success is largely derived through its fulfilment of several ventures established in the community, such as the landholder engagement, where it supports safety outcomes.


Voluntary disclosure is necessary to maintain or regain legitimacy through meeting societal expectations. While APA may be meeting these requirements to a large extent, it should consider the effect of disruptive change, which can influence new expectations in society. Rapid responses from organisations regarding technological changes and risks foster competitive advantage in the market. Due to globalization the world is changing rapidly which calls for all organizations to keep pace with the new developments if they have to achieve their sustainability goals. Thus, for successful integration of their sustainability strategies in society, it must consider the dynamism of the risk assessment process to eliminate chances of failure in case of emergencies.

Correspondingly, APA’s resilience in handling extreme risks events like carbon gas emissions is recommendable. Nevertheless, the organisation should differentiate an ambitious plan from a robust one. According to their forecast the plan may be unrealistic if it’s made to please the stakeholders rather than being tailored to meet the future needs. In most cases, an ambitious plan leads to failure as it lacks a strong basis, while a robust plan gives room for changes and consultations, making it more desirable. On the organisation’s plan to achieve net-zero carbon gases by 2050, more resilience is required by demonstrating velocity, persistence and response readiness to ascertain that its sustainability report is credible.

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Organisational culture affects behaviour and decision making in the organisation. At APA, the organisational culture values diversity, which is good for better decision making and improved productivity. However, the organisation could benefit from corporate sustainability principles that demand changes in values and beliefs inherent in the stakeholders. Provision of guidelines and employee training on the importance of changing their values and beliefs to reflect that of the organisation in their dealings with clients can drive sustainability strategies to an extra level of accomplishment (Rzemieniak and Wawer 2021). Many people are usually resistant to changes demonstrated by the organisation that take lots of time to adopt new trends, which are beneficial. Hence, APA should consider that a broad consensus in corporate practice is necessary and unavoidable in achieving a sustainable business.

In conclusion, both organisations presented a conclusive and recommendable 2021 sustainability report which could guide other corporations. APA and Organic Energy affirm their mission and pursued values acknowledging and measuring economic, social and environmental performance through these reports. The relevance of the reports to the organisation is an important tool to weigh its success annually, identify gaps to be filled and strategise for future improvements. In addition, accounting theories are useful in guiding organisations in their sustainability strategies, and the two organisations could benefit immensely by adopting their recommendations. Sustainability reports play an important role in enhancing transparency and accounting to the stakeholders, who contribute by offering their opinions based on the reports enhancing better grounds of efficiency. Hence, sustainability reports are the best solution to addressing corporate vices affecting society for many years through the GRI Standards, which demand transparent disclosure.


Gökten, P.O. and Marşap, B., 2017. Paradigm shift in corporate reporting. Accounting and corporate reporting-today and tomorrow.

APA Group, 2021. Sustainability Report.

Organic Energy, 2021. Sustainability Report.

Patty, T.F.Q., Lamawitak, P.L., Goo, E.E.K. and Herdi, H., 2021. Positive And Normative Accounting Theory: Definition And Development. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS, MANAGEMENT, BUSINESS, AND SOCIAL SCIENCE1(2), pp.184-193.

Rzemieniak, M. and Wawer, M., 2021. Employer Branding in the Context of the Company’s Sustainable Development Strategy from the Perspective of Gender Diversity of Generation Z. Sustainability13(2), p.828.

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