You have already come a long way if you realize that a separate sustainability report is required, rather than including the same in the annual financial report. Your pursuit for the environment and the betterment of people, need to get a designated space of importance, both in your budget and also, in the minds of your investors. A dedicated sustainability report will offer you an emotional and human-centric edge over your competitors as you will be connecting directly with the audience by showing the side not being known by most of the stakeholders. This practice also helps you become large in the eyes of your investors in numerous aspects.

The intent of any activity must always remain to pass on the message in the way desired. let us take you through some crucial aspects of better communication with sustainability reporting.

Scientific connection

Reaching the ears of some wise people will ask you to present your findings and strategy with the strong backing of scientific data or proving your facts with scientific theories; a weak statement without facts will only make your stance ambiguous in the eyes of your investors. Describing the source of information explicitly will make you seem like a stronger company with concrete values. There is no doubt, you must be using scientifically proven approaches for the betterment of society and the community, but communicating the same, transparently becomes necessary.

Adopting global reporting standards

There are many standards proposed by the global bodies for keeping the track of activities and making them comparable with each other. Bodies like the United Nations (UN), Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and others suggest these standards and are well taken by most of the brands. Adopting standards like GRI and SDI will make your reporting at par and mapping of the credibility would also become easier. These standards are made to bring uniformity and better tracking of compliances at the same time.

Stories of change

If you are the change maker and there are stories of your doings that brought a positive change in the lives of the people, the same needs to be communicated well to the audience. The real stories are always intriguing and go a long way in sparking the connection between the brands and the stakeholders by giving the human touch to the document. These change stories could be related to the campaigns you have run over the past year, which could be narrated as a tale of betterment and prosperity for the underdeveloped section of the society.

Scenario analysis

Whenever a company acts upon the situation, there is a consensus that there are some major issues to be solved for uplifting the living standards on our planet. The scenario must be portrayed with complete discretion to the readers so that your intentions towards the society gets communicated. Doing so will let the readers understand your research capability and will also make them realize, your doings will bring a positive change. This scenario analysis will also provide an outlook of future activities while outlining the expectations from the citizens for a sustainable future. If you are the one just planting trees without comprehending the exact scenario, there is an immediate need to understand the requirements and act upon the same; randomly picking up a project would only lead to a conclusion that the activities are being performed just for the sake of doing.

Snapshot of CSF Sustainability Report

Prioritization of material issues

Here comes the point where you need to pick your battles, a company cannot just try making improvements on every front in a single go, there is a need to capitalize on the most important issues that are aligned with the vision and brand identity of your company. It could also happen that you are doing a lot in a tremendous amount of areas, but the same would also require efficient communication for the investors to comprehend your stand. In this case, prioritization in terms of space is to be done; your concrete dealings or the ones reflecting your brand must get the maximum space and limelight while other doings should get exhibited with a minimized space. At times, there is a desire to tell everything, but in most cases, it is not possible due to the readability, and budget constraints. 

Integrated approach

It becomes your responsibility to move ahead with the cohesive approach of sustainability and reporting the same transparently. Three pillars of sustainability, namely the economy, society, and environment are to be taken into consideration so that your goals are aligned with the sustainability strategy of yours. A company must portray the accomplishments that support all three pillars at the same time. Say, you develop an eco-friendly product that is not economically viable, this will yield you praises at first, but in the end, it will turn out to be a product lacking practical implementation. An approach that looks after all three together helps in building the top to the bottom mechanism of sustainable development both, inside and outside the organization. Once you have achieved this, the same needs to be communicated well to come out as an organization of sensible and practical values.

Snapshot of the Goodera Sustainability Report

Third-party assurance and data quality

Third-party assurance is a buzzword making rounds in the industry concerned with sustainability reporting, as you require more than just saying the words and portraying the numbers in case of your data and conduct. A trusted and reputed third-party assurance of the venture for the community, environment, or economy validates your claims of being a friend of society and helps you maintain the image of being transparent at all times. Every brand going for sustainability reporting is trying hard to include these assurances not just to get through the compliance but also to remain the most reliable in the eyes of their investors. A plain data or some photographs will not do justice to the investors who trust you and expect your reporting to remain top-notch in every aspect. A sustainability report must come up with designated spaces for third-party assurance and data quality rational to stand out or say, stay in the spot of being a people-friendly company.

Brand value and identity

A report must be designed in such a way that the reader gets to know your brand without even looking at the cover page. Meaning, the theme and the design of the report must be a clear reflection of your brand identity and the USP you carry in the market. Include the pictures represent your style, icons that correspond to your image, a font that resembles your personality and other aspects that could illuminate the words with the brand value. Incorporating the ideas in this particular direction will yield tremendous results, and your investor would love the way your report.

Thoughtful Design approach

Your design language should speak on its own and convey the message of your last year’s developments. Along with that, you should keep in mind, sticking with the natural and earthy design language that is close to nature and also soothing to the eyes. Using soft contrasts, textures along with the empathetic image and typography would result in a cherishing and delightful output for every stakeholder going through the report.

Snapshot of Dell Sustainability Report

Conclusion

In the end, remaining honest and transparent in your reporting is the brightest gem to sustain. If investors are putting the trust along with their hard-earned money, there is no point disappointing them with the unclear data and ambiguous activities, just completed for the sake of reporting. Also, communicating the same with complete integrity and clarity is the biggest task that should remain the topmost priority at all times.