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Is there a point to corporate responsibility report assurance?

I’ve been reviewing a few CR/SD reports in light of Ethical Corporation’s conference tomorrow on CR reporting and communications.

Can anyone tell me the point of assurance? I have never understood it.

As an external stakeholder, I don’t expect the company to lie. They might make a mistake or two in the numbers, we all make mistakes.

But a very random audit, which is what assurance seems to be, is probably not going to pick that up anyhow.

And the assuring companies are not firms I trust to provide a challenging opinion to management.

There is too much money at stake for them to do that.

Is it then, to help management feel sure they are doing their jobs? I thought that’s what internal controls and performance reviews were for.

Surely the views of challenging stakeholders would provide a much better impetus for improvement.

So what is the point of corporate sustainability report assurance?

Did I miss a meeting? Or a decade of them? I guess I did.