Insight & Analysis
Sustainability Reporting: JUST DO IT
Producing a Sustainability Report isn’t a box you check and move on. Investors, customers, regulators, governments & stakeholders of all types demand more transparency and better information, especially on #CSR, #SDG impact, and other non-financial issues.
Sustainability Reporting is a de-facto requirement for successful businesses everywhere.
Social impacts and environmental stewardship are increasingly key to business success. Blackrock, the world’s largest investor stated it clearly in a letter to investee companies and published in the New York Times “Contribute to society or lose our support”. They recognize that CSR and Sustainability are fundamental to future success.
This sentiment is echoed by customers, regulators, governments, employees and other stakeholders. It doesn’t simply apply to large corporations – it is critical regardless of the size of your business. These are not costs, but investments that can unlock value, open markets and facilitate stakeholder relationships for business of all sizes.
Customers, including B2B customers, are showing distinct preferences for suppliers that can demonstrate how they manage social and environmental issues. When a reporting framework includes the SDGs, it becomes more relevant, more interesting and more valuable.
Sustainability Reporting, especially reporting done to GRI Standards, provides not just a systematic way for business to communicate social, environmental and sustainability impacts; it also provides a framework that facilitates more consistent and effective management.
The process of developing a sustainability report provides new insights and gives organizations a framework to facilitate more effective and efficient management of sustainability issues, enabling them to tighten the link between sustainability budgets, social impact and business value.
Producing a Sustainability Report can be costly and complex (especially if you jump into it without thinking through your value propositions and strategic framework). But, it doesn’t have to be costly and expensive.
A small investment in front-end planning can reduce cost and increase impact. These front-end considerations should include:
1.Why do you want to (need to) produce a Sustainability Report? What specific value and strategic interests will it address for you? Can you ‘tweak’ it (either how you design it or how you use it) so it will produce more value and meet additional interests;
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2. What type of report do you need? I encourage businesses to include the SDGs and look at a continuum of possible reports, from a simple Sustainability Statement through to more comprehensive reporting, that follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines and on to fully integrated reporting. For GRI reports I look at three progressive variations:
– A GRI referenced report that uses specific GRI standards to disclose on certain economic, environmental and/or social impacts
– Core report that references the “Core” GRI standards and makes the disclosures detailed in GRI standards 102 and 103
– Comprehensive report for businesses that want to demonstrate willingness to be at the cutting edge of reporting
3,How will you use the report? How can you use it and communicate the content to expand and accelerate the business value impact it creates?
Even if you are already producing a sustainability report these are important questions to consider.
If you aren’t producing a sustainability report the odds are that you won’t be able to avoid it for much longer. And the reality is that you will benefit from doing one sooner, rather than later.
Organizations need to plan and produce sustainability reports that are tailored to their specific needs, opportunities and the emerging requirements of their industry and markets. Using the Sustainability Reporting process to facilitate improved organizational performance, better management and to provide broad and strategic support to your operational goals is critical.
We have two upcoming Masterclasses that address these topics
Whether you can make it to the Masterclasses or not, I encourage you to focus on how impact measurement and sustainability reporting and communication can enhance value and impact. Make sure your CSR and Sustainability budgets connect directly to business value as well as to social impact and environmental stewardship. Check out the free resources we provide: Written and/or Video
As always if you have any questions about this article or would like to know more about how we can help your organization realize the benefits of CSR to your future business growth, please send me an email.