By Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU

From now on, EU regulations requiring non-financial reporting for large companies will be introduced, announced Frances Fitzgerald T.D Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Entreprise and Innovation.

“These new regulations, which require some of Ireland’s biggest companies
to publish information on the policies they adopt and apply on a variety of
important matters. In addition, these regulations oblige large listed
companies to disclose how they promote diversity, such as age, gender and
educational background, on their boards of directors”, said the Tánaiste.

Under the European Union Regulations 2017, large companies will be required to publish non-financial information about their company policies. The information published will include greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, through to social issues such as engagement with local communities and anti-corruption measures such as whistle blowing procedures.

The regulations apply to financial years beginning on or after August 1st, 2017, so the first of these disclosures are likely to become available from the second half of 2018.

“I believe that public disclosure of this type will help to encourage
sustainable growth in Irish enterprise. I expect that it will also be of
interest to investors, consumers, non-governmental organisations and wider
society” added Frances Fitzgerald T.D..

Firstly, companies that are categorised as both ‘public interest entities’
and ‘large’ and that have more than 500 employees must prepare and publish
a ‘non-financial statement’. That statement relates, at a minimum, to
environmental, social and employee matters, respect for human rights, and
anti-corruption and bribery matters. Where a company does not pursue
policies in any of these areas, it must give an explanation as to why not.

The second reporting obligation is on companies that are listed on an EU
regulated market and that are categorised as ‘large’. These companies must
provide a description of the diversity policy they apply in respect of
their board of directors (referred to as ‘diversity report’). This
information forms part of the corporate governance statement that listed
companies prepare. The diversity policy addresses factors such as the age,
gender, and educational and professional background of directors. Where the
company does not have a diversity policy, it must give an explanation as to
why not.

The European Commission has published guidelines to give companies guidance on their reporting requirements. These are available at –
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52017XC0705(01)


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