Leeds Business School

Non-financial reporting and SMEs: the case for Integrated Reporting

The need for businesses of all sizes to report on matters that are non-financial has come to prominence because of demands from consumers, citizens, politicians, and economists to better address community concerns, the natural environment, and the climate emergency.

Internal view of Rose Bowl looking up at the ceiling

For a number of years larger businesses have reported on matters that are non-financial as part of their integrated reporting and there is recognition that more should be done to support SMEs in this task. The INTEREST project developed three tools specifically to suit the needs of SMEs and the first of these was an integrated reporting framework which was led by Leeds Beckett University. The second tool was a guide facilitating adoption of the framework and the third tool was a series of learning modules supporting its dissemination. 
The project partners include universities, employer organisations, professional representative bodies, and private sector trainers and consultants.  

  • Budapest Business School University of Applied Sciences 
  • European Federation of Accountants and Auditors (EFAA) 
  • Multi-Actor Co-operation Network (MAC Team) 
  • Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences 
  • University of Udine
  • Leeds Beckett University 
  • Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists 
  • Wroclaw University of Economics, and 
  • Babes-Bolyai University. 

The project partners brought a diverse range of skills, knowledge and expertise and they worked successfully together to deliver on the project outcomes. 
The resources and materials were researched, developed, and tested with local businesses in each project partner country. The resources and materials will help SMEs better understand the requirements for non-financial reporting and ways in which they can develop integrated thinking. Integrated thinking and reporting have potential to benefit SMEs, the communities they serve and the natural environment in which they are located. The materials developed by this project will soon be available for SMEs to access for free and further details can be found by searching “Integrated Reporting for SMEs Transparency” on the EU’s Erasmus+ website Projects | Erasmus+ (europa.eu)

Looking to the future it can be anticipated that SMEs will have increased expectations by stakeholders that they will seek to address matters that relate to that of non-financial reporting. SMEs ought to start building Integrated Reporting into, not only their thinking but also their doing.

The Erasmus+ INTERERST (Integrated Reporting for SMEs Transparency) project sought to encourage the adoption of integrated reporting and integrated thinking among European SMEs. Information about the work undertaken, its scope, purpose and outcomes can be found here.

Dr Brian Jones

Senior Lecturer / Leeds Business School

Brian joined Leeds Beckett University in 2004 as Senior Lecturer in Marketing. Since joining Leeds Beckett University Brian has been engaged in teaching and lecturing, academic and applied research, funded projects (e.g. Erasmus plus) and consultancy (e.g. ERDF).