Pressure to report on sustainability metrics is up. Companies that have completed their first – or second – round of sustainability reporting must keep up the momentum.
It’s been an exciting – yet hectic – season in the world of corporate sustainability: consolidation of reporting frameworks, new financial regulations, and many new companies starting the journey of sustainability reporting and strategy.
58% of companies just started reporting in the last three years. (Source: Workiva 2022 Global ESG Survey)
It takes an incredible feat of coordination, stakeholder engagement, and sometimes sheer force of will, to get a first, or even second, sustainability report published. For the company, it often means dedicating significant time to develop sustainability governance, strategy and processes.
Unfortunately, you can’t take a break from sustainability reporting and strategy once the report is complete.
Stakeholders need to see continuous progress in your sustainability strategy. Working on that progress starts the minute you upload that report PDF to your website.
This means organizations must think strategically about the right next steps on their sustainability reporting journey. Here are a few you can prioritize:
1. Conduct a gap analysis and identify areas to improve and expand. Many first reporters are not able to report on all relevant sustainability data points, develop all necessary policies or address all material topics that first year. A gap analysis can help you identify and prioritize what to add the next year, and what will need more time.
- Confirm you met your stakeholder needs. Many B2B companies are completing their first report because their customers are asking for information about their supply chain’s environmental footprint or people policies. Were you able to meet their needs? It’s good practice to ask for feedback on what other information they need or expect to need in the future, so you can begin putting the policies or data collection practices into place.
- Expand your data reporting. Many first reporters are not able to report on all relevant sustainability data points. That’s ok; it’s better to get started than be perfect the first year. For subsequent reports, it’s important to keep expanding on that data set, especially in the areas your stakeholders have the most interest.
- Review your competitor set. Review the sustainability reports, strategies and policies of your competitor set. What do those companies report that your company does not? What was added to their reports this year?
2. Submit to climate data surveys. If a B2B company has not been requested by one of its customers to complete CDP or EcoVadis, the time is coming. Companies are using these platforms to help them aggregate suppliers’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data; and investment analysts are using the information to inform investment decisions. CDP, EcoVadis, and the investor ratings questionnaires — like Sustainalytics, MSCI, ISS, and Dow Jones CSA — also become helpful tools for conducting a gap analysis of what you can add to your sustainability strategy, policies and next report.
3. Consider supplemental resources. Now that you’ve completed a report, another important question to ask is: “What was the impact on the team?” Did you rely fully on internal resources to complete the report – in addition to their other responsibilities? Completing a sustainability report is a big endeavor and can be time-consuming. Consider if your team would benefit from external resources on reporting trends and improvements, writing, or project management.
Sustainability reporting is a journey, and you will need to show progression in obtaining your goals. Don’t simply repeat last year’s report. Step back and make sure you’ve identified the right things to move the company’s sustainability strategy and reporting forward, along with the right resources to help you.
If you are looking for a partner to assist you with your sustainability reporting for the first time or any time after your first year, reach out to us at email@example.com.