Learn how to communicate ethical values to members

Guidance shows how to report values to key stakeholders through narrative reporting

A step-by-step guide has launched to help co-operatives report their values to members.

The Narrative Reporting framework is built around three core pillars that co-ops can report on:

  • Member value: how it is delivering value to its members
  • Member voice: how its members have directed the co-op
  • Co-operative values: how it is living up to the co-operative values

It has been produced by Co-operatives UK’s Co‑operative Performance Committee, which is made up of senior finance leaders from the co‑operative sector. It is intended as guidance on how co-ops can structure their annual report to members but offers a lens through which co-ops can view their wider member communications across the year.

Co-ops and community impact: Getting to grips with narrative reporting

“Narrative reporting forms a key part of the relationship between a reporting entity and its stakeholders and is currently one of the hottest topics in the business reporting environment,” according to CPC chair John Sandford.

In launching the document, he said there has been considrable guidance issued on this topic over the last few years, but they have “been led by the larger corporates” and co-ops have generally been “followers”.

This guidance specifically for co-ops is an attempt to bridge that gap, according to Mr Sandford. He added that this is an area where co-ops should be leading the field: “At their heart, co‑operatives exist to serve their members and so any narrative reporting that they do should look to fulfil that purpose and clearly articulate how the individual co‑operative is achieving that goal.

“It aims to provide help and direction for all co‑operative entities in relation to the format and content of their narrative reporting. In doing so it is hoped that the co‑operative sector will show leadership in this area and drive improvements in reporting to the benefit of its members. The framework can also be used as a more general toolkit for use with any or all member communication.”

The framework emphasises the uniqueness of the co-operative model, the closeness of the relationship between members and their co-operatives and the overall articulation of the ‘co-op difference’.

The model reflects a ‘principles’ based approach rather than being prescriptive in nature and each co-operative should choose those areas of the framework that will particularly resonate with their members using the model as an ‘options menu’ for developing best-practice narrative reporting.

• To download the full framework, visit: www.uk.coop/nr

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