Sustainability Report planning and creation
Planning your sustainability report
Sustainability Report planning
There are many definitions on the meaning of sustainability.
One of the first thing that needs to be established. People, Planet, Profit is a common starting point to discuss areas a company consider sustainable. To some companies it’s the focus on greener efforts, recycling and reusing. To others it could be more people focused, concerning staff welfare and development. This could also include the support of specific charities or causes. For other smaller businesses it may be an attempt to reduce operating costs by introducing greener energy saving technology.
The next question is why?
What is the drive or motivation to publish a Sustainability Report? It’s not imperative for companies to publish one. As part of their CSR strategy, larger organizations have a commitment to deliver on their social responsibilities which could include various sustainable issues and obligations. Depending on the nature of their business, it may be far more important for some industrial organizations to meet and comply with their annual sustainability agendas.
39% of Companies in the Smallest Half by Market Cap of Russell 1000 Index Published Sustainability Reports in 2019 – Up From 34% in 2018
Financial performance of companies is related to how well they handle their social, environmental, and economic, management.
Your sustainability story
By understanding what sits behind the motivation for the report will help focus the content of the publication. Then a company needs to determine what information to reveal about their sustained activities in order to support their story, e.g.: data from the previous year that can be measured and tracked, details that show the efforts made. Supported with imagery if available, costs incurred and/or saved for each activity.
90% of S&P 500 Index Companies Publish Sustainability Reports in 2019.
Each year the sustainability goals may shift according to market conditions (i.e. Covid 19), client expectations, and / or industry regulations. Company stakeholders or staff members may also influence the goals of the sustainability strategy.
Setting goals for your Sustainability Strategy
The report should outline the reasons for setting and pursing selected sustainability goals. This includes KPI’s and a section that addresses measurement and outcomes of recommendations.
The strategic and tactical goals need to be defined. A strategic (sustainability) goal is the company’s overall big picture goal. This could be something like aiming to be an ‘employer of choice’, to attract new talent. Aiming to give back to the community (CSR) by supporting charitable causes. Eco-friendly, is a goal to improve carbon footprint, become more energy conscious focused. Each company will have their own strategic goals but to achieve them there must be a plan in place. A tactical plan will be the method or path designed to achieve each sustainable target/KPI throughout the year.
Ergonomic work stations.
Rest and Recreation area.
This is the input.
The report should then also measure the results, the output from such activities. Although not necessarily directly linked, this could be demonstrated through productivity and staff retention, and also reviews and feedback questionnaires. A section addressing efforts to look after the environment is key and can also include the influence that the company places on it’s teams and employees to adopt sustainable practices in all aspects of their life, not only when they are at work, e.g.:
Offering incentives for employees to use public transport by subsidizing it,
encouraging car-pooling, or promoting new alternative transport such as e-scooters / bikes by providing charging stations. It is important that each section of the report highlights the intended goal all activities are linked to, how they impacted the goal, and how this relates to the overall strategy.
People, Planet, Profits
What’s your strategy?
Planning ahead in a post-COVID pandemic world has prompted more corporates to look at their social responsibilities and focus on their sustainability issues. Creating a Sustainability Report officiates a company’s efforts and bring focus in documenting their results to the wider community and world. It serves multiple purposes as a marketing and PR tool for attracting quality employees and clients and assuming all efforts are genuine, it also promotes employee retention, compliance certification, business sector leadership, mission and vision alignment, and new client aspiration.
Looking ahead to post covid
Content is King
In an era where web content is king for online brand presence, a Sustainability Report ranks high on quality of content. A longer than average 12-month shelf-life makes it good steady organic ranking. It can be posted as an html blog, interactive document or as a PDF. It can also be posted and boosted via social media and linked to a newsletter. If well designed and written it makes it arguably the most engaging and shareable content within a company’s marketing content calendar.