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ESG for SMEs: Can the Proposal 2021/0104 for a European Directive Help in the Early Detection of a Crisis?

Patrizia Riva, Maurizio Comoli, Ambra Garelli
IntechOpen - 2021-11

With the proposal for a European Directive 2021/0104, the number of entities
who will be required to prepare a non-financial statement (NFS) has been broadened.
The directive provides that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may
also voluntarily opt for drawing up a non-financial statement. It is therefore important
to identify reporting standards containing key performance indicators (KPIs),
tailored to the characteristics and structure of SMEs. In addition to the potential
advantages in terms of improvement in relationships with stakeholders, NFI could
be relevant for an early diagnosis of crisis signals therefore, an early warning
behavior. This paper, therefore, aims to analyze how non-financial information can
be a valuable aid to all governance players in identifying those first signs of crisis.
In Italy, Organismo Italiano Business Reporting (OIBR) is drafting a document that
promotes the use and communication of non-financial information on the part of
SMEs with the dual objective of demonstrating that corporate governance structure
on the one hand, and management and accounting tools on the other should be
adequately designed and functioning so as to prevent a company’s exposure to the
risk of failing to operate as a going concern.