Robert Eccles, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, considers Actions to Achieve Inclusive Capitalism

There are no silver bullets for achieving inclusive capitalism. However, integrated reporting can play a major role in bringing it about if it achieves large-scale adoption by companies and large-scale use by investors.

In 'The International Framework', published in December 2013, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) defines an integrated report as "a concise communication about how an organization's strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value in the short, medium and long term."

The Framework directs attention to how companies are using and impacting the 'six capitals': financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural. Traditional financial reporting was designed to capture how companies use and impact financial and manufactured capital. It virtually ignores the other four capitals that companies draw on, and impact upon, in executing their strategies.

Through regulation, legislation, and an increasingly active and sophisticated set of stakeholders representing a broad range of interests of civil society, companies are increasingly being held to account for how they use and affect, both positively and negatively, all of the capitals they use. Integrated reporting and integrated thinking are processes that enable management to both better understand the interdependencies across these six capitals and to communicate a holistic view of performance to shareholders and other significant audiences. The Framework provides guidance for preparing an integrated report, while organizations such as the CDP, the Global Reporting Initiative, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board can provide guidance on identifying and reporting on the material issues that belong in an integrated report.

While interest in and knowledge about integrated reporting is growing, it has yet to achieve the kind of momentum necessary to make a significant contribution to inclusive capitalism. In my most recent book, The Integrated Reporting Movement: Meaning, Momentum, Motives, and Materiality (with Michael P. Krzus and Sydney Ribot) I discuss what must be done to change this. Here let me make two simple points. The first is that companies and investors need to stop the senseless finger pointing they are engaged in. Companies claim that investors aren't interested in integrated reporting (and so why should they bother?) and investors claim that the quality of information in integrated reports isn't useful for decision-making. Both sides of this dialogue must work together to improve it.

This will only happen, and this is my second point, if some prominent CEOs and CIOs step up and show leadership. What I see is most companies and investors waiting for others to 'make the business case' for integrated reporting. However, how can the efficacy of something be demonstrated if nobody ever does it? Leadership is about recognizing good ideas whose time has come, and being willing to take the risks and receive the benefits of going first.

Inclusive capitalism needs leaders in both the corporate and investment community. As already noted, integrated reporting is not a silver bullet but it's a great place to start.