Acting on sustainability- 9 steps to get started.
Sustainability reporting is well and truly on the rise. Between 2002 and 2020, the percentage of N100 companies publishing sustainability reports increased by 62%. This growth is thanks in large part to investors and other stakeholders increasingly demanding greater transparency on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.
A problem is emerging, though. Many boards and company directors are struggling to take action on the basis of these reports.
There are a number of reasons for this. Sustainability reporting is often complex and technical, making it difficult to understand for non-experts. Additionally, companies are often reluctant to make changes that could negatively impact their bottom line in the short term.
Action your sustainability report.
Fortunately, there are a number of things that company directors can do to take action on sustainability reports. In this article, we will share a few actionable tips that you can use to make a difference.
1. Audit Your Board’s Expertise
The first step is to take a close look at the expertise of your board. Do you have any directors with experience in sustainability or ESG issues?
Usually, the skill sets of corporate boards are dominated by financial and legal expertise. Given the growing importance of sustainability, it is becoming increasingly important for boards to understand their limitations in this area.
An audit will help you to identify any gaps in your board’s expertise. Once you know where the gaps are, you can take steps to fill them. This might involve recruiting new directors with relevant experience or providing training for existing directors.
2. Fill in Knowledge Gaps Based on Your Audit
Once you have audited your board, you can start to fill in any knowledge gaps. There are two simple steps you can take in line with this goal:
- Appoint a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). A CSO can be a valuable asset to any board thanks to their deep understanding of sustainability issues and will be able to advise the board on how to take action.
- Provide training to directors. Even if you do not appoint a CSO, you can provide training to your directors on sustainability topics. This will help them to understand the issues better and make more informed decisions.
Filling knowledge gaps helps boards take action by ensuring that they have the necessary expertise to understand and act on sustainability reports.
3. Appoint a Sustainability Committee
In addition to appointing a CSO or providing training, another way to fill knowledge gaps is to appoint a sustainability committee. This committee can be responsible for reviewing sustainability reports and making recommendations to the board.
Appointing a sustainability committee has a number of benefits:
- It ensures that there is a dedicated group of directors with the knowledge and expertise to understand sustainability reports.
- It provides a forum for discussion and debate on how to take action on sustainability issues.
- It helps to ensure that sustainability remains a priority for the board.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can embed the sustainability committee in your company’s governance structure. Implement a policy that gives the committee the power to review and approve all major decisions related to sustainability.
4. Put Sustainability on the Agenda
We’re not speaking metaphorically here—we literally mean put sustainability on the agenda. At every board meeting, set aside time to discuss sustainability concerns and progress towards sustainability goals.
It’s easy to let sustainability fall by the whey side, since it doesn’t necessarily with interface with the day-to-day running of the company. But by making sustainability a regular agenda item, you can ensure that it remains top of mind for directors.
5. Make Use of Technology
Technology can be a powerful tool for company directors looking to take action on sustainability reports.
For example there are now a number of software platforms available that can help you to track, manage, and report on ESG data. These platforms can be used to set goals, monitor progress, and identify areas where action is needed.
A few examples of popular sustainability reporting software platforms include:
Ask your executive team to give these solutions a trial run and see if they would be a good fit for your company.
6. Tie Executive Compensation To Sustainability Targets
One way to ensure that sustainability is given the attention it deserves is to tie executive compensation to sustainability targets.
This doesn’t necessarily mean withholding pay until sustainability targets are met. Instead, you could consider awarding bonuses for hitting certain targets or goals.
For example, you could give executives a 10% bonus if they meet or exceed your company’s greenhouse gas emissions targets. This would provide a powerful incentive for them to take action on sustainability issues.
7. Implement a Scorecard System
To ensure that your sustainability strategy is given the attention it deserves is to implement a scorecard system.
This system should be used to track progress on your sustainability targets and goals and it should include both quantitative and qualitative indicators.
The scorecard should be reviewed on a regular basis, and action should be taken if progress is not being made. This system can help to ensure that sustainability remains a priority for your company.
8. Conduct an Annual Sustainability Review
To ensure that your company is making progress on sustainability, you should conduct an annual review.
This review should assess your company’s performance on a range of environmental, social, and governance indicators. It should also identify any areas where improvements are needed.
The review should be conducted by an external body, such as a consultancy firm. This will ensure that it is objective and unbiased.
9. Educate Employees About Sustainability
Education programs aren’t as flashy as some other sustainability initiatives, but they can be extremely effective.
Furthermore many employees are not aware of the issues surrounding sustainability and as a result, they may not be motivated to take action.
However by educating your employees about sustainability, you can increase their awareness and understanding of the issues. Then this will make them more likely to support your company’s sustainability goals.
Start Taking Action on Sustainability Today
Taking action on sustainability is complicated—but not impossible. However boards and company directors are in a uniquely powerful position to make a difference. By taking action on sustainability, you can ensure that your company is doing its part to protect the environment and create a better future for all.
The tips in this article should help you to get started. So remember: even small actions can add up to big change. So don’t delay—start taking action on sustainability today!
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Based in Dubai for over 10 years, Peter is the founder of Sandpaperme.com and TheSchoolAgency.com.
A trusted authority on digital marketing Peter is passionate about helping SME’s grow their business in the Gulf region.
When he’s not in the office Peter enjoys playing squash, often more times than his knees can cope.
At Sandpaper We have been around long enough to realize the importance of good report writing, research, and design. A thoroughly planned and executed report builds loyalty and trust among stakeholders.
In the 10 years of service, Sandpaper has managed to adapt to changes in both the global and local corporate landscape in the United Arab Emirates.
Annual Reports : Sustainability/Environmental, Financial/AGM, Impact and special focus.
View the latest work Sandpaper has designed and published.