How to Communicate & Promote Your Sustainability Report for Maximum Value

Congratulations! After months of slogging through all the data, aggregating and analyzing materials from across your organization and coaxing it into a format you feel is both compelling and informative, you’ve finally done it. You’ve published your sustainability report!

The question you should now be asking yourself is, “What next?”

That’s because your work isn’t over once you publish your report. Far from it. This next stage will determine whether your sustainability report is deemed a worthwhile exercise or falls flat. Sustainability reporting is like any other business activity in that if you want people to value your effort and continue to support this type of endeavor, you need to be able to demonstrate ROI. What’s the return on the time and resources you’ve invested in the process of gathering and reporting on all of this data?

What this means is that the worst thing that can happen next is Read more...

4 Steps to Engaging Stakeholders in your Sustainability Reporting Process

In a recent blog post, we outlined four simple steps to a materiality assessment that you should consider when developing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability program.

Now that you’ve identified your internal and external stakeholders and defined the key indicators you plan to measure, the next step is to outline a stakeholder engagement strategy.

Below we listed four steps to consider before engaging stakeholders in your sustainability reporting process:

1. Engage Stakeholders Early

Stakeholder inclusiveness should be an essential part of your sustainability reporting process. According to GRI, “the reporting organization should identify its stakeholders and explain in the report how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.” Involving your stakeholders early in your sustainability reporting process will give your organization an opportunity to understand their proprieties and emerging concerns, while discovering opportunities to address issues before they become a serious threat to your organization’s … Read more...

Materiality Assessments in 4 Simple Steps

What is it?

Materiality. It’s a concept that comes up more and more frequently – especially when it comes to discussions of sustainability. But what is it exactly and how and why is it applicable to EHS?

Put simply. Materiality is a principle to help define and determine the business, social and environmental topics that matter most to a business and its stakeholders. This is also something that 80% of the world’s largest 250 companies are already tracking and reporting on as part of their sustainability reporting efforts.

Like many topics this is in part due to increased focus on corporate social responsibility as a differentiator for these businesses, and in part due to regulations and standards. Of these standards, the main one is the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 guidelines. In Europe there is currently the added pressure of the European Directive on non-financial reporting for publicly traded companies … Read more...

Five Ways to Become the MacGyver of Sustainability Reporting!

First things first, why should you track and report on sustainability? There are many ways in which organizations who report on corporate sustainability benefit both internally and externally.  From an internal standpoint, Sustainability Reporting provides a deeper understanding of a business’s risks, opportunities, strategic direction, operating efficiency, and how they rank in the market and stack up against the competition.  Externally it can greatly impact your brand awareness and loyalty, empower stakeholders, demonstrate your organization’s sustainable development over time, and mitigate/reverse negative environmental, social and governance impacts.  But for those who are new to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, it can seem a daunting task.  Where do you start, who do you involve and what’s the best way to disseminate the information?

In this first post of our Sustainability Reporting Series, we share 5 Best Practices to keep in mind when embarking on your organization’s CSR journey:

Know Your DataRead more...

Sustainability Reporting: A Love-Hate Story

This blog was originally published by BSR, a global nonprofit business network and consultancy dedicated to sustainability. It is republished here with permission.

Dunstan Allison-Hope is Managing Director, Advisory Services at BSR and is a regular commentator on issues of corporate accountability, reporting and human rights. He participated in the process to create the Global Reporting Initiative G3 guidelines and is also co-author of the 2010 book Big Business, Big Responsibilities.

I hate sustainability reporting. It is so draining to spend six months of the year buried in the process, only to have very few people take the time to read the finished report.

I love sustainability reporting. If it weren’t for reporting, we’d have no way of knowing how much progress companies are making on sustainability issues and what they are learning along the way.

I hold both these views at the same time, and I think … Read more...

Do You Know the 4 V’s of Big Data?

Crystal ball of big dataFrom professional sports, to advertising, to investment banking and almost everything in between. Big data is driving thousands of decisions each day that impact us all in areas big and small. But what is big data exactly, and how or why should it impact efforts in the realm of health and safety?

First a definition of big data itself. Big data is a term that began to emerge over the last decade or so to describe large amounts of data. Boring I know. At its origin, it was a term used to describe data sets that were so large they were beyond the scope and capacity of traditional database and analysis technologies. As Moore’s law continued, technology caught up, but the data still kept (and still keeps) growing.

Beyond simply being a lot of information, big data is now more precisely defined by a set of characteristics. Those characteristics are … Read more...

Can you spot greenwashing? Technology gives environmental claims a power wash.

Ok, I know that I’m biased when it comes to how organizations can leverage technology to provide visibility into their CSR initiatives; after all, I work for a software company that actually provides this type of technology. But my bias is for good reason. It works.

The practice of claiming environmental responsibility without having metrics or processes to back it up certainly leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the eco-conscious consumer. Even if an organization is truly engaged and mindful of their environmental stewardship, the public is now wary and weary of corporate claims that don’t hold…um, water.

And the general appetite for responsible companies and governments when it comes to environmental protection is growing. Look at the recent survey of American attitudes created for Yale and George Mason University. It indicated that 3 out of 4 voters favor regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and a majority … Read more...

Campbell’s on the evolution of sustainability

Sustainability can be incorporated into corporate culture if concepts relating to environmental and social impacts are communicated in clear and meaningful ways, according to Dave Stangis of Campbell’s Soup Company who recentlysat down with GreenBiz.com’s Nature of Business Radio for a chat on the evolution of sustainability.

As VP of Corporate Social Responsibility at Campbell’s, an Intelex client, Stangis has championed environmental and social responsibility and in three short years has made Campbell’s a leader in CSR, having cultivated an environment of collaboration within the company.

According to Stangis, business leaders must “translate these concepts of social impact, environmental performance improvement, employee engagement, community involvement into ways to make their jobs better, more impactful, and improve their innovation and productivity, it’s a whole different world. All of a sudden it’s a tool and not an obstacle. And that’s really the goal.”

Listen to the entire chat over at Greenbiz.… Read more...

Is a software-based EMS the only way to effectively improve sustainability performance?

Monitoring environmental impacts by tracking sustainability KPIs is essential for any business that wants to improve or report on environmental performance. But, from a financial perspective, how these environmental metrics are tracked is as important as the fact they are tracked. Results increasingly show a software-based EMS is the most effective way of improving environmental performance and boosting revenue.

Environmental management has been overcomplicated in recent years, and business leaders often feel overwhelmed by the perceived array of complex requirements associated with environmental performance. But it is actually quite simple. On a rudimentary level, it involves tracking and reporting on four critical metrics: waste and wastewater output, water usage, and air emissions. After analyzing these factors, a business can develop and implement new policies to mitigate its environmental impacts and save money. 

But the most substantial savings of environment management arises from the implementation of a software-based EMS. The return … Read more...

Sustainability reporting, minus the burden of reporting

Thinking of reporting on your sustainability efforts through an outlet like the GRI? Good for you.

That said, you may have encountered some opposition to the premise, or criticisms highlighted by Corporate Social Responsibility guru Mallen Baker, who has pointed to an oft-cited flaw in the GRI approach, namely the fact a report is essentially a company’s own narrative of its sustainability performance.

“All the current models of reporting expect the companies to provide their own narrative — to tell the story complete,” he noted on his blog. “And yet that doesn’t work, because the end user actually doesn’t read the reports, and doesn’t trust the company to provide its own context. There are no expert interpreters of this information. All the focus on assurance is about checking data — but that isn’t the real issue. People by and large don’t think the companies will lie about the data … Read more...