Sustainability Reports – How to Make a Start?

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Businesses are increasingly under the microscope in terms of their sustainability practices. Cue the growing need for companies large and small to have a tool that communicates clearly to all stakeholders the firm’s sustainability strategies, practices and targets. The vehicle for this is your sustainability report.

Sustainability in this context goes beyond your environmental practices. Your sustainability report will also discuss your management and financial stability, your community social responsibility (CSR), and your people practices. All these aspects combined form the core of your sustainability as an organisation.

Why have a sustainability report?

Because your stakeholders care.

    • Consumers are increasingly scrutinising your environmental and CSR practices. The choice to switch to a different brand is now wider than ever. If you are a B2C company, you have the opportunity to gain your consumers’ trust and lock them in as a life-long customer through your strong ethics as a business. The Body Shop is just one classic example that started its life as a sustainable brand in terms of the ingredients that go into its products and its ‘fair trade’ supplier policies and it continues to attract huge brand loyalty. Not every company is the Body Shop, but your sustainability practices will sway consumer choice.
    • If your business is more B2B, your clients will increasingly want you to demonstrate your defined sustainability practices. It reflects well on their own brand and provides them a cost savings opportunity in the longer-term. In THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP’s capacity of helping clients and design their bid proposals, we are finding the requirement to detail sustainability practices as part of the submission is becoming more and more common.
    • For employees, your sustainability practices, and the fact that you’ve committed to publishing them in a report, will likely be a major motivating factor.
    • For potential investors, you will be a more attractive prospect from a reputational and therefore commercial perspective.

Where to start with your sustainability report?

Put the building blocks into place by reviewing where you are and where you want to be. As mentioned, your sustainability report should be considering your financial, employee, community and environmental sustainability. What are your employee work conditions, access to training and promotions policies? How do you communicate your sustainability policies to your suppliers and how do you expect them to reflect these within their own practices?

What environmental metrics do you want to measure – co2 emissions, water and energy savings, or percentage of waste recycled? How does your company and its employees get involved in community and environmental initiatives? How do you as a firm reduce your stakeholders’ risk through your own financial sustainability and management governance?

What are you defined goals? How did you achieve your goals in the previous year and what were the challenges? What are the goals you’ve set moving forward? Goals should be defined, specific and measurable – the percentage of energy saved through using more sustainable lighting for example.

Your sustainability report should also specify the people within the company assigned as sustainability ‘champions’ in the respective areas and that will monitor/measure progress at defined periods.

Materiality assessment

Where the company is now, where it wants to be, the aspects it wants to measure and how it will measure them are all part of your ‘materiality assessment’. A great place to start is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – the main global reference to sustainability reporting and guide to setting sustainability goals.

Now you have the foundations in place:

    • Why you should have a sustainability report
    • What your sustainability priorities will be and how you’ll measure them
    • Who within the company will be the sustainability champions within the different areas

Now onto structuring and writing the report – the topic for a later blog. Watch this space…

To find out more about how THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP can help you write and design your sustainability report, contact us on +971-50-4575469, info@weareblackandwhite.com, or visit our website – https://www.weareblackandwhite.com/. We also partner with sustainability consultant that will take you through a full materiality exercise.

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