Sustainability communications is important because it enables dialogue and engagement between organisations and their stakeholders. Often, this communication can take different approaches, using multiple platforms with many organisations producing regular sustainability reports to share performance with stakeholders on material issues promoting transparency as a way to manage and operate their business.
In recent years, we have seen organisations and companies increasingly integrating sustainability into their value chains and reflecting triple bottom line accounting into their corporate governance. When companies are truly incorporating sustainability into their decision making top down and bottom up, then reporting on this scale should go beyond just transparency, and sustainability reports should provide those organisations with a wealth of data as a tool to help them in becoming more effective and efficient. Sustainability reporting comes into its own element here, adding real value and helping organisations, their stakeholders and communities to reap the true benefits of sharing sustainability performance data and information.
One of the issues can be producing reports that fail to connect with a broad range of stakeholders and audience. Readers seek specific information in sustainability reports, depending on their needs. Sustainability reports should be designed in a way that allow flexibility and access to in depth details, avoiding generic, broad statements and information that doesn't provide the required level of disclosure and information.
Sustainability reports already contain a wealth of information. However, many stakeholders don’t have the time to sift through all the information to find what matters to them which presents an opportunity to review how the reports are being used and what information is most important to users.
Once you start planning your sustainability report, you can review the option that are available to you about how you present and provide the information in your sustainability report in a format and size that suits your stakeholders and readers, this can include: blog posts, info-graphics, informative tweets, presentation slides, mini-briefings, webinar presentations.
These are some of the ideas that you can explore to present your sustainability achievements, challenges and progress, please contact the Sustainability to Action team for more ideas and to support you in getting your sustainability messages out.
Sandra Anani is passionate about sustainability, with over 19 years’ experience. She has dedicated her career to sustainable development and communications.