How to create a sustainability report for your business

How to: Create a sustainability report for your business
Table of Contents

Creating a business sustainability report can have many benefits. From improving reputation with stakeholders to appealing to potential new consumers, there are many substantial reasons why so many companies have them.

Developing a report can be tricky, however, and generating the right goals and actions for your business can be time-consuming. To help your business on its journey of developing its own sustainability report, we have created a step-by-step guide to get you started.

1. Generate key goals and benefits

Before drafting a report to put forward to stakeholders and consumers, generating a list of key goals and benefits will help you decide what initiatives and changes to implement. 

Remember, creating a sustainability report is not all about the environmental benefits. Creating goals which reduce your environmental impact can often bring benefits to your business too, so make this clear in your report by emphasising the different areas which are ‘business benefits’ and ‘social benefits’.

For example, choosing to sell on your old assets for refurbishment and reuse has the social benefit of reducing electronic waste, and the business benefit of generating revenue.

By splitting the goals of improving your business sustainability into these two sections, you can develop effective initiatives which will benefit both your business and the environment.

2. Research and analyse competitors

Knowing where to start when developing a new report can be difficult. Luckily, many other businesses have their reports available on their websites for public access, providing a good opportunity to research and consider which areas also apply to your own report.

Of course, it is important that your report is tailored to your company activities and processes, however, gaining an insight into the areas which you should focus on can make competitor reports a useful tool. Gathering ideas on areas to consider for your sustainability will help you to develop a structure for your report for when you come to construct it.

For examples of corporate sustainability reports from different industries, visit ICAS.

3. Creating your sustainability report

Once you’ve researched your competitors for inspiration and ideas, it’s time to develop actions specific to your business’ sustainability goals. Keep in mind that not all of your actions will be immediately achievable, and it is important to include these setbacks within your report.

As stated by simply sustainable, ‘in reporting, openness and transparency are key, and presenting a balanced, genuine and authentic story, rather than a polished and perfect – but often unbalanced – picture is essential to building trust with stakeholders’. 

Developing your report to only show how your business has succeeded in its efforts won’t display a true representation of your business’ sustainability journey. Providing a true story, warts and all, will show transparency and generate trust.

4. Remember it’s a work in progress

When developing any report, generating goals, revising them and updating the data takes time. Unless you know the data from the past previous years of your business, it is difficult to record how your corporate sustainability has changed over time.

Using charts to monitor over months, or years, how different elements of your business has changed will help your business to develop long-term incentives. Simply stating your current data without the context of future goals, makes creating a report less effective.

5. Communication is key

 As we discussed communicating your corporate sustainability report on different channels for marketing, the same should be done internally. Having your staff aware and acting upon the goals and incentives within the policy is the only way to start to make them happen.

Communicate your goals with staff and stakeholders to ensure they are agreed upon, this makes them more likely to be achieved and displays you care about the sustainability of your processes. People want to work for a business who are making a difference, so be sure to market your efforts within your company, as well as outside of it.

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To learn how S2S can help with your business sustainability, contact a member of our team.

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