1. They have clear websites navigating readers to clear targets.
2. They demonstrate both an understanding of the global challenges, and their role in the world.
3. They use their reporting as the basis for communications campaigns, not as the campaign itself. Short, targeting messaging to key, focused stakeholder groups, on top of a main website and regular reporting.
4. They are not afraid of honest debate about challenges, progress, missed targets, problems and solutions, online and face to face. They value being challenged and seek to use it for innovation and improvement rather than becoming defensive.
5. They use social media to communicate on sustainability, either via a corporate account or by specific accounts.
6. They publish regular performance data and updates.
7. They offer news feeds on progress.
8. They showcase critical stakeholder voices and suggestions for improvement.
9. They partner with credible academic institutions and NGOs.
10. They talk about how sustainability fits with business strategy – and how that will improve.
11. They don’t forget to link sustainability with both social issues and governance, global and local.
12. They host public debates which are streamed online and do not put themselves always at the centre of these.
13. They seek crowd sourced solutions and encourage and fund innovation.
14. They are clear about sustainability as a business opportunity. They recognise that stakeholder engagement is about listening and encouraging intra-preneurs, as much as it is about responding to external trends and pressures.
15. They are clear about their corporate power and influence and have a public debate about how that power and influence is used, and report on progress, positive and negative.
(If you’d like to discuss this post further and the companies who do sustainability communications well, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org)