Developing a sustainability report is an important step for any organization looking to showcase their commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Having an official report that outlines key performance indicators (KPIs) helps stakeholders understand your organization’s progress and commitments to sustainability.
But what do you do when company managers are resistant to the idea?
In this article, we’ll be walking you through the process of building a compelling case for why your organization needs a sustainability report.
Why Is Sustainability Reporting Worth Fighting For?
The main reason why sustainability reporting is worth fighting for is that it helps to establish trust and reputation with stakeholders. It shows that your company cares about its environmental and social impacts. Your report will clearly outline the steps taken towards sustainability, and lay out concrete plans for improvement in the future.
Making a clear case for sustainability reporting will also help to build investor confidence. By demonstrating that your company is taking positive steps towards sustainability, investors will be more likely to back you and feel comfortable investing in your business.
Furthermore, having a clear report can help attract top talent as it shows employees that the organization is committed to making social and environmental impacts.
How to Make a Compelling Case for Sustainability Reporting
Building a case that convinces hesitant managers to invest in a sustainability report isn’t easy, but it’s possible. All you need is a clearly defined strategy that addresses the most common objections to sustainability reporting.
Here are five steps to help you make a persuasive case:
1. Research the Benefits and Risks
Sustainability reporting is a complex process with a range of interconnected benefits and risks. If you want to build a compelling case, you need to understand the positive and negative impacts that sustainability reporting could have on your organization.
Start by reading up literature published by non-profit standards providers like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Resources like Deloitte and Forrester are also valuable resources for reliable and informative case studies.
Alternatively, you can learn more about the benefits and risks of sustainability reporting through the Sandpaper blog. We’ve covered these topics in-depth elsewhere, but here is a quick summary of some common benefits and risks:
Benefits of Sustainability Reporting
- Improved investor confidence
- Positive brand image and public trust
- Increased transparency and accountability
- Attracts top talent
Risks of Sustainability Reporting
- Financial implications for organizations that don’t meet standards
- Reputational damage if unmet promises are exposed
- Potential for accusations of “greenwashing”
2. Understand Organizational Hang-Ups
Most organizational resistance to sustainability reporting comes from a lack of understanding of the process. For example, managers might be reluctant to invest in something they don’t understand or see as overly complex and time-consuming.
In order to make a case that addresses organizational hang-ups, you need to understand them.
Start by creating a spreadsheet that lists key decision makers. Then conduct interviews or issue surveys to identify the main concerns and objections about sustainability reporting—list these next to the decision makers.
3. Systematically Address Hang-Ups
Once you have identified the common objections to sustainability reporting, it’s time to systematically address them.
Start by preparing a presentation that uses data and case studies to make your case. This should include information on the potential financial benefits of sustainability reporting, as well as the risks of not doing so.
You can also create visual aids like slides and charts to illustrate how sustainability reporting can help your organization achieve its goals. This will make your case more easily accessible to non-experts.
4. Create a Preliminary Roadmap
Before you can convince decision makers that your organization needs a sustainability report, you need to create a preliminary roadmap. This will provide an outline of the steps required to develop and implement the report.
For example, your roadmap should include tasks like:
- Researching sustainability standards
- Gathering data from existing internal sources
- Hiring external consultants
It should also outline a preliminary timeline and budget for the project so that managers can see how long it will take and how much it will cost.
5. Align Your Roadmap With Organizational Objectives
You should also ensure that your sustainability roadmap is aligned with organizational objectives.
This means demonstrating how sustainability reporting will help the organization achieve its goals and objectives—for example, improving customer loyalty or increasing employee engagement.
By making a clear connection between sustainability reporting and organizational success, you can make a persuasive case for investing in the process.
6. Make Your Case
Once you have created a compelling case for sustainability reporting, it’s time to make your pitch.
Start by summarizing the main arguments of your case in a few brief sentences. Then present the evidence that supports these arguments and discuss the potential risks and benefits of investing in sustainability reporting.
Finally, explain how the report will be developed and implemented. Make sure to emphasize the potential ROI, as well as how the report will benefit stakeholders.
Best Practices for Convincing Decision Makers
When it comes to convincing decision makers of the need for sustainability reporting, there are a few best practices you should follow:
- Always speak in terms of ROI and tangible benefits
- Be prepared to address potential objections (prepare responses in advance)
- Focus on the long-term value of sustainability reporting
- Provide case studies, visual aids, and other evidence to support your case
- Create a comprehensive timeline and budget for the project
- If possible, get buy-in from key decision makers prior to approaching the entire organization
By following these steps, you can make a compelling case that convinces managers to invest in sustainability reporting. It might take some effort to build a convincing argument, but it’s worth the investment if you want your organization to become more sustainable.
If you’re looking for a partner with decades of experience helping organizations create and publish sustainability reports, look no further than Sandpaper. Our team of experts will help you every step of the way, from creating a comprehensive roadmap to publishing your report.
Contact us today to learn more!