Ocean Certification provides a service of verification of an organisation’s Social Responsibility Reporting using the AA1000AS (Assurance Standard) (2008) under licence from AccountAbility.
The AA1000 Assurance Standard (2008) has been developed to improve the accountability and overall performance of organisations by increasing quality in social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting.
In particular there are a number of considerations which must be taken into account when assessing an organisations reporting including materiality, completeness and responsiveness.
Materiality requires that the Assurance Provider (Ocean Certification Ltd) states whether the Reporting Organisation has included in the report the information about its sustainability performance required by its stakeholders for them to be able to make informed judgements, decisions and actions. The organisation is responsible for determining what it treats as material. In making this determination, it must understand and respond to what is material to its stakeholders.
Completeness requires that Ocean Certification evaluate the extent to which the Reporting Organisation can identify and understand material aspects of its Sustainability Performance. An organisation’s understanding of its performance should be fair and balanced. Fairness should consider factors such as importance, relevance, reliability, comparability and understanding of information. Reported information should be sufficiently detailed for stakeholders using the report to make decisions with a high degree of confidence.
Responsiveness requires that Ocean Certification evaluate whether the Reporting Organisation has responded to stakeholder concerns, policies and relevant standards and adequately communicated them in the report. A systematic process for determining the relevance and importance of material issues provides the basis for decisions about priorities.
The AA1000AS (2008) is unique as it requires the assurance provider to evaluate the extent of adherence to a set of principles rather than simply assessing the reliability of the data. The AA1000AS (2008) requires the assurance provider to look at underlying management approaches, systems and processes and how stakeholders have participated. Using the AA1000AS, the assurance provider evaluates the nature and extent to which an organisation adheres to the AccountAbility Principles in the AA1000 APS (2008).
The AA1000AS (2008) delivers a rigorous process that adds value to both the company and external stakeholders. The AA100AS (2008) is a principles-based standard that provides a rigorous framework for sustainability assurance while at the same time providing enough flexibility to adapt to the context of the individual organisation. It provides findings and conclusions on the current status of an organisation’s sustainability performance and provides recommendations to encourage continuous improvement. It is not a certification standard which leads to a pass or fail, and so can be used by organisations at all stages of maturity.