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Six things to look for in a sustainability report

Last year we developed a joint reporting review product with the consultancy Context. We’ve done a few private, and public reviews of reports since then.

As part of a recent review we undertook for a company, I penned a few quick thoughts on what I look for in a good corporate sustainability/corporate citizenship/corporate responsibility report:

1) Evidence that there is an over-riding sustainability vision for the company that demonstrates understanding of both global and company-relevant issues. And a sense of the company culture and character.

2) A genuine-sounding letter from the chief executive making A) clear.

3) A tone that recognizes the company does not have all the answers and is both suitably humble where appropriate but also proud of business achievements where relevant in the sustainability area.

4) Consistent targets, with their relevance explained, (GRI indicators alone do not cover this).

5) As much historic relevant performance data as possible for comparison with the current year.

6) Detailed evidence of stakeholder relationships and genuine two way dialogue on an ongoing basis, and input/comments from both employees, representative groups, relevant NGOs, and academic and IGO/ membership group organizations where possible.

It’s amazing to me sometimes, how many report still lack this. But perhaps I expect too much after reading them for ten years.

I’d be interested in thoughts on what I’ve missed off the list.

You can join us later in the year at our annual reporting conference in London on November 25-26 to talk about these issues face to face. For more info, send an email to my colleague Cora Ng at cora.ng@ethicalcorp.com

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