Alignment and assurance of your processes and reporting under sustainability-related regulations, standards and frameworks
Once you have embarked upon a more sustainable business model, communicating your position to stakeholders, suppliers and customers will strengthen your position and add credibility to your claims.
A good way to communicate your efforts is to produce a sustainability report. But be aware that producing a report is only valuable if you walk the talk. Behind a sustainability reporting can also a number of processes and other reporting, such as under the Emissions Trading Scheme or voluntary frameworks and best practice models, such as greenhouse gas reporting.
Processes of reporting
We’ve seen many businesses rush into the reporting stage before they have clearly established their sustainability priorities and goals, and aligned them to their business strategy. The best place to start is to develop and embed your sustainability strategy. For ideas on what to include look at existing reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as they will help you identify any gaps in your sustainability strategy. Industry specific supplements to the GRI also help to provide ideas in areas that are relevant or important to your stakeholders..
Once you are confident in your sustainability strategy, there are a number of processes and steps to implement it. This can involve developing and implementing various management approaches, understanding how to measure your impacts and perhaps undertaking regulatory and voluntary reporting of emissions.
Once you have progressed on this journey, a lot can be gained by effectively communicating this through a report. Customers and investors are increasingly aware of sustainability and are making purchasing choices as a result. Whether you like it or not, businesses are being judged on their actions. Clearly communicating your position makes it transparent to your customers and potential investors what you do and how you act. From this they can make more informed decisions.
As with all reports the right balance needs to be struck between engaging the reader (storytelling) and communicating the details (facts). While frameworks such as the GRI guide you on this journey, a good report conveys the details in a clear and comparable fashion while communicating the values of the business.
For organisations that have embedded sustainability into their strategy and operations, integrated reporting is the next step. Business today face heightened expectations, with turning a profit only one of the many criteria by which performance is measured. Rising in importance is the impact a company has on its stakeholders, society, and even the planet. Integrated reporting, which encompasses elements of financial reporting, sustainability reporting, and governance reporting within a single presentation, represents a growing trend that reflects these new expectations.
Integrated reporting is largely voluntary, with few countries implementing mandatory reporting in this area (for example South Africa and the UK). A number of initiatives are underway to develop frameworks, principles, codes and management systems, most notably by the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC).
In the absence of a generally accepted framework, companies that wish to move toward integrated reporting may encounter several dilemmas around relevance, scope, assurance and other issues.
How we can help you
We can ensure you get the most from your sustainability reporting by working with you to:
- Support your stakeholder engagement processes
- Identify your objectives, your approach to managing these and how you will measure success
- Compare your sustainability report against best practice models to identify any gaps
- Look at your core data and make sure that you are reporting and measuring the right things
- Implement systems to collate and report performance data against your strategy
- Provide independent verification services