The average sustainability report is 102 pages and growing. Each page takes a lot of work: planning, designing, writing, validating, reviewing (and reviewing again). Then there’s assurance, messaging and making sure all pages tell a coherent, credible and compelling story. But despite the best of intentions, reporting teams often run out of steam when it comes to promoting, benchmarking, reviewing and planning for the next one. Carving out a few hours in your calendar soon after the launch of the report, means you’ll be setting yourself up for a smoother process and even better outcome next year.
So, now the reporting season is over, what are the three things every sustainability and investor relations team should be doing right now?
- Write it down: when you start the process again, what is the one thing you’ll wish you did? Document everything that worked, everything that didn’t and most importantly the ideas you’d love to achieve but couldn’t quite make happen this time around. It’s important to do this process with the wider reporting project team too, including supporting partners and agencies.
- Look up and out: identify a cross-section of different internal and external stakeholders that represent your audience and ask them what they think. Did they know about your report? Did they read it in full or skim through it? What was their main takeaway? Which section or topic was of most interest? How would the report need to change to make it more useful to them in their day to day roles? How does it compare to other reports? Consider asking some sustainability specialists* how your report compares to best practice. Use this exercise as a way to measure your return on investment by building a database of qualitative and quantitative feedback to track over time.
- Shareable assets: work with your reporting partner to turn your pages and content into assets you can share on an ongoing basis. By doing so, you can keep your sustainability report relevant for a year, not just the day or week you launch it. Better yet, ensure this is embedded into your content strategy at the start of the project next year.
*During October and November we are offering a free sustainability reporting assessment and feedback session by our expert team for the first 10 companies that reach out. First in best dressed!
If you’re interested or want to chat more generally about your reporting, contact Ashleigh.
Head of Sustainability Leadership | Principal Consultant