Why and How to Ace Your Sustainability Report This Year
Reporting season is getting closer, and so are the trials that come with it. Collecting data and creating a sustainability report doesn’t necessarily need to be overwhelming or disproportionately time-consuming. With a clear process that optimizes your efforts, and with the right people involved, you’re bound to succeed.
We have reviewed our best tips from the archives and assembled a toolbox for kicking off the reporting season, making the ride as smooth as possible for you this year. With these pointers prepping and creating an outstanding sustainability report ought to be a breeze.
Let's Recap – Why is Non-Financial Reporting Important?
Consumers today are hyper-informed, so creating a great sustainability report is a must for businesses who want to be taken seriously with their sustainability efforts. Using modern practices to scale your sustainability reporting improves efficiency, saves time, and satisfies increasing stakeholder needs. In fact, investors’ expectations on materiality and consistency in sustainability reporting practices are ever growing.
Sustainability reporting is here to stay. Where once sustainability disclosure was the domain of a few especially green or environmentally-oriented companies, it is a best practice employed by companies worldwide today. A focus on sustainability helps companies manage their social and environmental impacts while improving efficiency of resources and meeting stakeholder requirements.
Just Starting Out?
If you’re in the beginning of your sustainability journey and want to know where to focus your efforts, don’t miss our 7 tips for a successful sustainability strategy. Developing a strategy that correlates to your organization’s values is key for subsequently creating a sustainability report that adds value to you and your stakeholders.
Even with a good sustainability strategy, finding momentum internally for investing resources on a high quality sustainability report can oftentimes be challenging, and convincing the management to invest in a software that will streamline your annual reporting efforts might be even harder. The fact of the matter is that you can often benefit in many ways from a good sustainability reporting practice, not limited to the report you produce once a year. To read more about what makes a good sustainability report and how to create scalable reports that benefit both you and your stakeholders, explore ourblog post on the topic.
So, once you have the strategy for your sustainability work done, and the support within your organization to create the report of your dreams, it’s time to get a move on! But where to start?
How to Achieve a Smooth Reporting Process
Sustainability reporting doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be scaled and done efficiently thanks to modern digitalization and standardization practices. To maximize the value of the entire process, let the time spent on your sustainability reporting serve you in the long run. Clear objectives and a waterproof data structure will help you years to come.
1. Set Your Goals
What do you want to achieve with your sustainability report, and who will it cater to? Define what values are relevant for your organization and benchmark against what others in your industry are doing. Review previous years’ reporting material and set a clear scope for your report this year. When you know what metrics you want to track, you know where to start digging.
2. Involve the Right People
Think about who to involve in order to best reach your goals. Of all the competences in your company, your colleagues are likely to possess knowledge or data that you’re lacking. By involving others and creating streamlined processes, you also avoid person-dependent processes. Building a process that makes information and processes less dependent on a few persons, distributing the responsibility and the access to information will reduce stress, administration load and the risk of the consequences should key persons go absent. It will also result in much better traceability of the data.
3. Start Collecting Data
When all the internal processes are set, your goals are clear, and the right people are in the loop, it’s time to allocate and collect the core data. Your organization and subsidiaries probably already have essential data for creating your report, stored in a dedicated system or in Excel sheets. However you have chosen to manage your information, be critical when analyzing your current data. Do you need to add data points, elaborate on supplier information, calculate emissions in your affiliates, or any other information that will help you reach the goal, which is your sustainability report? If so, you need to get your hands on that missing information, often by contacting or sending out reporting requests to the people who can give you the right answers.
4. Reach your Sustainability Goals With the Right Tool
Sales, marketing and HR all have their own tools to help optimize their efforts; why shouldn’tsustainability have one, too? The right tool saves your time and efforts, and makes the results of your data collection and analysis truly trackable, transparent and reliable. With a system-controlled process, you can automate workflows that allow scaling your data collection and skip all the tedious manual work you would normally have to undergo. Relevant software will eliminate person-dependency in the reporting process, while ensuring reliable data that is collected in one place – easy to analyze and gain insights from. That means you can forget the endless administration that manual data collection entails, and focus on what really matters.
Summary: The Importance of Sustainability Reporting
To stay relevant and competitive in today’s business climate, a sustainability report is of utmost value. The time and energy you put in your organization’s sustainability report isn’t in vain. In fact, many stakeholders and customers increasingly expect companies to be able to show the public what sustainability efforts they are making.