Does C-19 give you a reason to skip a year in your sustainability reporting?
It’s a fair question, given that most companies will be short of resources and looking to save a few pennies.
We have a solution that saves money and time. More
important, it helps you maintain your reporting record and keeps you connected
to those stakeholders who need and want your information. This is especially
true for the environment, social and governance (ESG) investors who are enjoying
a boost from the commercial ravages of C-19.
Our solution is called Smart Reporting™ and we share our
thinking – and an example – here.
As my colleague Francesca Ward has pointed
out, an increasing number of countries have legal requirements for non-financial
reporting. The law will not be altered by C-19 and companies should be aware of
the minimum statutory demands.
Voluntary reporting has become an onerous task for those who
think it wise to tick all the boxes, among them standards and guidelines from
the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainable Accounting Standards
Board (SASB), the CDP and the Task Force
for Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
If one has the resources and the ambition to satisfy all
stakeholders – including the burgeoning ESG sector – then there is nothing
wrong with offering a gold-plated report.
Indeed, it sets you apart as a good corporate citizen pursuing a transparent
relationship with all those who have a legitimate interest in the 360º performance
of your business.
Feeling the pinch
But if your resources are limited, then we argue that our
highly-targeted approach − Smart Reporting™ − is a legitimate and, well, a smart
way to ensure you keep connected with those organisations and individuals who influence
What is Smart Reporting?
Here’s an example, from the innovative speaker company Sonos.
For its first sustainability report, the company was determined
to create something its employees and leadership would read. It had to be short
and sharp. Most important, it needed to share progress accurately and
transparently on the Sonos sustainability key performance indicators.
With our understanding of the Sonos culture, we knew a conventional
report would never fit.
Enter, our Smart Report.
It’s highly designed and light on text. But, and this is important, it’s transparent about
all the right topics.
With less than 200 words a page, in a concise 30 pages, Sonos
shares its sustainability progress and ambitions. The report’s showpiece is the
one-page KPI dashboard which tracks its performance and goals. The format
resonates with the company’s leadership and can easily be updated quarterly to
share progress with employees and other stakeholders throughout the year.
Small, big or gigantic, the Smart Report™ principles apply
to all companies:
Brevity − keep it short
Clarity − make sure it’s easily
Relevancy − ensure it concentrates on
what matters to the audience
Transparency − it’s OK to push your core messages,
but not to obscure the truth
Keep those principles in mind in your planning. Then take these four steps to success.
Smart Steps to Success:
Define the audience. Understanding the needs of your audience
helps you decide on the extent of the content and how you want to present it. Plot
the information needs of different stakeholders on a matrix. If you’ve done a materiality assessment in
recent past, cross check with that and fill any obvious gaps.
Focus on what’s important to the audience.
Collect the relevant and essential information.
Feel free to ignore nice-to-haves and the gold plating.
Choose a format. Does your audience want a
web report or a simple downloadable PDF? The Smart Report lends itself to both.
Remember, investors and raters/rankers prefer a time-bound document.
Present the content clearly. Use good
design, infographics and simple writing.
Job done for another year. Here’s hoping for a more prosperous 2021.
If you’re unsure about the future of your reporting during C-19, we’re here to help. Our Smart Report™ will keep you connected to your key stakeholders while saving time and resources compared with conventional reporting.
Reach out to our Smart Report™ expert Lisa for more information.