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Transforming reporting

15 May, 2020

The world is in turmoil, but fear not, sustainability reporting continues.

And for good reason: clear and timely communication on how companies are responding to the world’s most pressing issues, both social and environmental, is more important than ever.

We have always believed that transparency is the first step to achieving meaningful change, and this is especially true when it comes to sustainability. Without understanding, in detail, your supply chain or impact of your products, how can you address, innovate and create efficiencies across your operations?

This week, an article in the FT about sustainability ‘fatigue’ caught our attention. The world of sustainability reporting is confusing at best and conflicting at worst. New protocols and frameworks are emerging every year. Some are general in scope, which allows for comparison across companies and industries, but risks some hiding significant issues in areas that are most meaningful to their business. Others are sector specific, but offer limited insight as to how companies across industries compare with each other.

So here is the sustainability challenge: how do you create transparency and accountability in a way that is understandable, comparable and meaningful? And how can we extend the scope of reporting to promote transformational change?

Perhaps the first step is to agree on a small set of mandatory indicators for every business, as is the case with financial reports. The benefits of this include demonstrating performance over time and comparison with peers. However, there must still be flexibility for companies to tell their own story and highlight issues that matter most to their business. Not everyone will do this, but those that do will certainly stand out from the crowd.

By Jennie Mitchell

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