While being on holiday I had good idea for a new blog category and series. Each week (if possible) I am going to write a review of either a new or interesting sustainability report or website I have come across.
Sustainability reports and the sustainability websites of organisations are getting more and more sophisticated and complex as they are increasingly seen as being a key communication tool for organisations across the globe. They usually include information on their environmental, social and some economic performance.
I will start with the first company next week.
Before starting I wanted to provide everyone with a rough guide to sustainability reporting and what to look for when you either read a sustainability report or when browsing the sustainability section of a company’s website.
What To Look For In A Sustainability Report
- What is the time span of the reporting period? Annually or bi-annually? Companies that take reporting on sustainability serious usually report on an annual basis
- What are the topics they report on? Are these topics really important topics or just window dressing?
Are they providing a lot of stories and case studies? Stories and case studies bring you closer to the people and challenges the organisation faces.
- Do they have a set of key performance indicators (KPI)? What are they and have the reported on these before? KPIs are either numbers or qualitative indicators that provide comparibility over a period of time for the companies. If a company has defined a set of indicators and report on these over years than this is a good sign that they know what they are doing.
- Do they use the GRI G3 principles? If yes what is their rating? The GRI is the Global Reporting Initiative and they developed a very sophisticated set of principles as part of a reporting framework every company should report on. Reporting according to the GRI is a must if you want to produce a respected report. Altough it needs to be said that for smaller organisations the GRI is not always useful as it is very extensive. GRI is most useful multi-nationals in my opinion.
- Do they refer to their website? If not then they are missing the trick of interactivity
- Do they have a contact person in their report or just an email address? An essential part of stakeholder engagement in my opinion.
What To Look For On Their Corporate Sustainability Website
- All of the above
- Do they have a standalone sustainability report or do they only provide the information on this website? Both ways can be successful if you have the stakeholder in mind.
- Do they provide regular updates of their key performance indicators or any other information? An essential factor for interactivity and communication.
- Are they trying to engage with you as the stakeholder and viewer of the website or are they purely relaying company information?
These are just some of the questions a good sustainability report and website should answer.
I will starting next week to use these and more questions to see whether the particular report is delivering value to you the reader and stakeholder.
Next weeks report will be the AllianceBoots 2007/08 Corporate Social Responsibility Report if you want to have a sneak preview.
Photo Credit: B_Tal