Over the last three decades, sustainability has become more than a buzzword as facts show that it comes with enviable benefits for enterprises that integrate it into their operations.
This is the reality that is pushing more companies to adopt sustainability reporting. In 2010, only 20% of S&P 500 companies were publishing their sustainability reports, but this figure jumped to 90% by2020. So, is your company ready to cross the line and start sustainability reporting too?
This post looks at the seven special benefits of sustainability reporting to help you understand it well. Finally, the post will list the main sustainability reporting principles that you should use during the process. Do not be left behind as others enjoy the benefits of sustainability.
ESG sustainability reporting refers to the disclosure of information about a company’s operations, especially its environmental, governance, and social impacts. The focus is not just to generate reports for assessment but also to ingrain sustainability ideals in every part of the organization. Before jumping to the benefits of sustainability reporting, here is a closer look at the three main criteria used in ESG reporting:
· Environmental: This criterion focuses on assessing how a company impacts the natural environment. For example, how does your company use resources such as water, forestry, and fossil fuels? In the light of the fast-growing focus on green energy, it is important to put efforts towards enhancing efficiency, adopting renewable sources, and reducing emissions.
· Social: The social criterion focuses on how a company affects the people, their cultures, and the extended impacts to the community. Here, factors that you might want to consider in your report include data protection, customer satisfaction, community, relations, labor standards, and employee engagement.
· Governance: These are company’s internal systems of control as well as related procedures. Good governance ensures that a company operates in a transparent way and uses the best practices. Some factors to consider are internal operation controls, shareholder and employee rights, board composition, and leadership.
As you can see, sustainability reporting touches on all aspects of an organization, and it is important to start by understanding how it works. Remember that although sustainability reporting is not a mandatory requirement, it is expected to become even more important in the coming years because of the demands from customers and investors.
The following are the main benefits of sustainability reporting that you should anticipate:
(1) Better Understanding of Opportunities and Risks
Are you looking forward to growing your company to the next level? Of course, entrepreneurs and managers are always looking for ways to grow their revenue, sales, and market share. The first step of sustainability reporting is the evaluation of risks and opportunities, implying that you are able to identify the challenges facing the enterprise.
Take the case of a company that has been operating fairly well, but a review of its operations shows there is a chance of doubling the production through the adoption of better equipment. If the new system is installed, it will be a great opportunity to take the company to the next level.
When carrying the review of your organization, make sure to draw key goals in line with sustainability reporting principles. Although addressing these challenges and risks might come at a cost, especially when new equipment will be required, the benefits in such a situation will be long-term. Again, such a surge in costs should be captured in the report.
(2) Enhanced Competitive Advantage and Improved Brand Image
When they completed their survey of over53,000 consumers in the United States, Natural Marketing Institute found that 58% of respondents factor a company’s impact on the environment when making their decision to buy.
By adopting sustainability reporting, stakeholders see you as a responsible brand and would want to connect more with you. Although the example we have highlighted here was drawn from the US, the entire globe is biased towards brands that are focused on sustainability.
If you check at most ads, the messages that drive sales are those that target doing good. The effort your company makes to cut excessive use of water or electricity implies one thing – a lot more persons, families, and communities can now enjoy the resource. Once your company releases the sustainability report, carry it to every forum, and it will work to your advantage. You can even make it your primary marketing tool.
(3) Helps to Boost Employee Morale
The social criterion of sustainability reporting targets people and their cultures, starting with employees. To make your efforts on sustainability work, you need the employees to help implement the different policies. By adopting programs that boost their engagement and motivation, your company gets to enjoy the following:
· They put more efforts which result in higher productivity.
· Improved connection to your organization resulting in low staff turnover.
· Motivated staff will be your company ambassadors when away from the business.
· Employees will appreciate the need for change and support it as opposed to becoming resistant.
(4) You Become a Global Leader
If you want your brand to be more outstanding compared to others, no effort should be spared to promote growth. ESG sustainability reporting elevates you to this position of a global leader.
You become a common name that other people, institutions, and businesses can only envy. Take the example of a company that adopts creative strategies to cut emissions and becomes a case study in different forums.
In such a case, the company's name will always come up when the challenge is mentioned, reviewed, and solutions highlighted. Therefore, you become a leader, and that comes with the following additional advantages:
· Higher traffic to your company.
· Better engagement for your clients.
· A bigger market share, higher sales, and more profits.
· A stronger brand.
(5) Enhanced Business Ability to Comply with Laws
With all the discussion centred on key global challenges, from climate change to declining energy resources, many national, regional and state governments have adopted policies designed to protect the environment and society. For example, the US and EU are very strict on waste management, labor laws, and worker protection.
By adopting sustainability and making it part of your system, it becomes easy to meet the changing policies and regulations.
(6) Reducing the Risk of Governance and Environmental Failures
Another perfect example of the benefits of sustainability reporting is the ability to enhance operating efficiency and cut down the risk of failure. When setting the goals of sustainability reporting, you are also required to point out key performance indicators(KPIs) and a monitoring schedule. So, you are sure that any issue that can stand on the road to the success of the venture will be identified and rectified early enough.
(7) Helping to Make the Globe a Better Place
This list of benefits of sustainability reporting cannot be complete without pointing out the advantage of helping to make the world a better place. So, what are your objectives for sustainability? Whether you are supporting non-governmental organizations for social justice, biodiversity restoration, or addressing global warming, the efforts provide a sense of satisfaction because you are part of a solution.
The benefits of sustainability reporting we have listed above provide insights into the huge potential that await those who commit to sustainability. For your sustainability reports to win the affection of investors, draw more followers, and grow sales, you need two things: preparing them in line with a specific framework, such as Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or Carbon Disclosure Project-CDP, and follow the core principles. Here are the main principles used in sustainability reporting:
· Transparency and reliability: This is considered the core principle in ESG reporting, and it is aimed at ensuring the information in the presented reports is correct and reliable.
· Balance and neutrality: This principle is used to ensure that you do not report on one side only. If adopting sustainability reporting caused challenges and extra costs, make sure to include them in the report.
· Consistency and comparability: Most stakeholders who read your report on sustainability want to be able to make decisions about working with you. This is why your report should be consistent for them to easily check the results, compare and draw their conclusions.
· Flexibility: Sustainability reporting comes with a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to select the areas to target. For example, you might want to focus on promoting social justice as other firms target conservation. Well, it is okay, but you must ensure the information is reported accurately.
· Materiality: This is another important principle aimed at ensuring people focus on areas that have significant social, environmental and governance impacts.
If you have not started using sustainability reporting in your organization, you are missing a lot. The benefits of sustainability reporting we have listed in this post point at an emerging area that is gaining traction fast.
The reporting is not simply targeted at the final report, but to help companies redefine their operations for long-term benefits. This is why the achievements from sustainability reporting of a specific year should build on those of the former. You can never go wrong with good sustainability reporting!
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