Category Archive: Reporting Personalization

How to communicate better with your sustainability report?

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.

What’s next in the line for financial reporting?

Annual financial reports are a lot more than just figures of a fiscal year, portraying the health and wealth of the company.

The annual report comes out as the most subtle and exciting way of communicating your brand value without even marketing it explicitly. You get to showcase your company’s culture, talk about future endeavours and make your investors happier at the same time.

Though every government mandates certain companies to make their annual reports public for transparency and a sense of understanding for the investors, there is a lot more than compliances to an Annual report. Let us know what’s next to be explored and cherished.

Digital Annual Report Optimization

Annual reports, designed specifically for digital platforms may not be the newest, but they are certainly not the conventional way of delivering reports in the larger space. A printable annual report, being saved as a PDF and then shared on digital platforms is not the digital report we are talking about.

Digital reports are never printed and are made device-specific for extensive usability across devices like mobiles, tablets, desktops. This upgradation of reporting could be your next technological advancement and will certainly make you and your investors stand out.

Digital reports allow effortless navigation and comprehension as they are smoothly scrollable, clickable, lets you zoom in and out conveniently and also offer you a vibrant outlook of being revolutionary.

Visual Reporting rather than Annual Reporting?

Let’s call it an engagement mechanism rather than a report! If your annual report is just full of numbers, paragraphs, looking like a news bulletin, there is no chance, the ignorant audience of these days will spend their time to toggle between those figures and comprehend your success. The task at hand is to make it a cakewalk and achieving that is fairly possible with the visual narration of the crucial stats. More than speaking, it’s about showing the happenings of a year spent well on growth and prosperity. Going forward, more and more brands will be shifting towards visualization, and the practice will become pretty normal in the coming years.

IOCL Annual Report Snapshot

More reporting with storytelling

It would be a crime to start a report without deciding a motive; for reaching somewhere, at least a direction is required. Your theme works as a definite path of progress. Aligning that story with the progress will make you stand out; for doing so, the narrative must be built around the key achievement or the past year and revolve around every other crucial aspect. More than anything else, you must build an inspiring story of your work and never forget to pay gratitude to your investors, wherever required.

Video Reporting

You can’t expect every investor to be fond of reading! You ought to provide to the good listeners and the viewers too. Going forward brands will be more end result-focused, providing comfort to the audience as they desire. The video report must not be another version of the digital report with some animations but a solely developed video that is easier to comprehend, remember and also with a story that connects.

Connecting people with people

Rather than using animated graphics, it’s going to be a lot more useful, if you use the real photographs of real people to connect the audience with the exact definition of your brand. You can’t just miss out on the human connection, not now, not in the future!

This practice helps in developing your brand as a people-centric one and lends the emotional touch required to gain a loyal and growing investor base.

CSF Annual Report Snapshot

Reporting through smart copywriting

Moving forth, brands will be narrating a tale through their numbers and visuals, but the text will also go through a transition. Starting with the initial heading to a footnote, every aspect must be a well thought out one depicting the clear essence of the last spent year. Brands are working on a concept of making the annual report seem like a mystery novel offering a sense of tranquillity at the end. This tranquillity must come from the fact that investors have made the correct decision to stick to your brand.

Marketing the success

You may be printing the reports or posting them on your website but, are you marketing the masterpiece that has been created over the year? This seems like uncharted territory for many as they will market the products, services and everything else but fail to put an honest effort into making the most influential document available with ease. The required intensity of marketing the report is going to be the same or even more in the coming years than the one for developing the report. The same phenomenon will decide the future of new investments coming your way. 

While making your reports public, one must work on investor communication more than anything else so that your document even reaches the moon in a single click.

ESG Disclosures

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance disclosure is not the thing of the future but is surely less adopted by the brands. If you are willing to be the trendsetter or remain at that very spot, then your ESG must be reflected with a designated space for comprehension and conveying the essence you carry throughout. More than anything else, your investors require hard data showcasing the heart of the company they have been believing in. There is no better way to include that in your reports. If you can deploy your value creation model in place, you will gain an investor sticking with you even when the tide is not your way.

Endnote

You can’t just expect people to read your report without any incentive; there must be an informative angle providing an industry outlook as a whole. The intent will remain to connect the people through reader-friendly technology, investor-friendly approaches and people-centric communication. If you are willing to begin the next disruption, there is no point to step back and not experiment creatively with your reporting. 

Though reports will change the prime objective of providing the investors with the information about the brand’s, financials won’t get lost in between.