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What are the biggest issues in sustainability reporting?

As usual here at Ethical Corporation, we’ve been hitting the phones and talking to customers to help formulate our products.

One project we’re working on is where our customers are at when it comes to reporting.

What do they want to talk about at our annual conference on reporting and communications?, we asked ourselves.

From our in-depth research to formulate our provisional agenda, here’s some of the issues that are coming up:

1) Are traditional ways of reporting now out of date?

2) Integration: If sustainability is an integral part of the business, why not have the CR report sit within the annual report?

3) Defining good communications – Live critique by expert commentators

4) Identifying who your target audience is

5) How to measure how many people read your report

6) How to create the hook to get people to read it. How to make it interesting.

7) Individual reports for key stakeholder groups – should you provide them?

8) Collecting data, overcoming the challenges

9) Avoiding the perils of complete transparency

10) KPIs for sustainability achievements – What indicators to use, how many are sufficient?

11) Overcoming challenges faced by multi-national corporations when it comes to Reporting and Comms

12) Benchmarking against partners, suppliers and customers within your supply chain

13) Stakeholder panels – How, when, why?

14) Harnessing the power of social media

15) Getting internal support for CR reporting and communications

16) How to use GRI effectively. Is it the entry point, or the end-game?

Readers should note these are not our views, but those of 20-30 corporate customers we’ve been speaking to. Most of them we’d agree with, they are simply common sense.

My question to you is: what’s missing from the list?

We’ll be using these insights to form our conference agenda for the event on November 25-26 in London.

Some thoughts on what I like to see in reporting, from earlier today, are here.

P.S. 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

1 Comment

  1. A good summary. Your point 10 doesnt quite capture the full issue of impact measurement rather than process measurement. i.e. KPIs can be and tend to be performance in management processes, rather than indicating the actual impacts, positive and negative on society. We need to see more metrics on actual impacts, that use indicators which do not depend on subjective assessments by the companies and their auditors. There has been progress on this on the environmental side, such as measurements of carbon footprint, by firms like Trucost, but we need this extended to all ESG dimensions of business practice. I wrote about this as a key challenge in 2004 and we have seen some developments such as G3 at GRI, but not sufficient movement towards simple comparable numerics on actual impacts. Instead, the growth of CSR comms and ESG ratings has created quite a mushy area of non-comparable and methodologically unsound "data". As this area begins to affect money flows in more important ways, so this situation cant continue. Hence the use of some new initiatives like that of Global Initiative for Sustainability Rankings (GISR).

    10) KPIs for sustainability achievements – What indicators to use, how many are sufficient?

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