September 15, 2016 | By isosteam |
How to prepare your strategy for the next CSR reporting cycle
September is here! We can hardly believe how quickly this year has flown by. We wrapped up the busiest reporting season yet, have continued to train the Next Generation of Sustainability Reporting Practitioners, expanded our service offerings, and got the kids off to school!
As sustainability professionals, we know that this month signifies a change in focus. We are no longer thinking about this year’s or last year’s social, economic, and environmental journey. Today, we start strategizing for the future and in doing so, we ask ourselves:
- How do we speed up the process? After all, 2030 – when we’ll start to feel the devastating effects of climate change isn’t too far off.
- What is the next CSR reporting cycle going to look like?
- VWhat sustainability investments are going to be the most impactful?
- How do we effectively encourage action in supply chains, where approximately 80% of greenhouse gasses emissions occur?
- How do we build the case for deeper integration in terms of thinking, organizational processes and resources needed to effectively and responsibly manage the businesses of the future?
After a lot of consideration and discussions with top sustainability practitioners, we believe there are three sustainability skillsets needed to leverage tomorrow’s sustainability opportunities. Acquiring these skills will improve a company’s bottom line, broaden brand recognition, positively impact shareholders and stakeholders, and enhance a company’s overall sustainability literacy:
- Understanding and aligning the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and communities to effectively address some of the world’s greatest sustainable development challenges by 2030. They present an opportunity for businesses to develop and implement products and strategies that promote gender equality, clean water and sanitation, responsible product consumption, peace and justice, and the like. Using the SDGs is a great way to cast the net toward larger objectives and develop actionable strategies for implementation. Companies that use SDGs in tandem with the GRI will be able to strengthen their stakeholder relationships, stay ahead of policy developments, more quickly identify business opportunities, while developing and implementing goals in all areas of business that are accepted and celebrated globally.
- Finding the shared value in sustainability reporting.
Finding shared value in reporting is much like finding the love again for the practice, particularly when companies are certainly feeling the burden. Unlike financial reports, sustainability reporting hasn’t been as turnkey or operationalized in a standard manner. If sustainability/csr reports are written correctly, they are able to clearly articulate a reporter’s strategic methods undertaken to uncover risks and opportunities on the macro and micro levels, while also demonstrating a clear alignment to the organization’s ability to manage impacts and evaluate performance. Materiality that assesses impacts across the value chain, which has also engaged stakeholders to some degree, is at the heart of this process.
Secondly, no creative wordsmithing will correct complex calculations systems or processes. We can no longer let the credibility of data go by the wayside…hence the need to reaffirm pursuing data sets that are most material to the organization. In the United States, we’ve benefitted from working within a non-regulated space, which has allowed us to strengthen our processes. It’s only a matter of time before stricter standards are enforced. Therefore, turning attention to narrowing in on gaps and limitations, firming up management systems and moving toward assurance is vital.
Reporting doesn’t stop at the point of publication. Further, the conversation should be ongoing. The reality is, sustainability professionals are exhausted by the time reports are published or disclosures are submitted, such as in the case of CDP, DJSI, GRESB or others. It’s time to re-purpose detail, which should also engage others internally, i.e. supplier/vendor contract requirements through procurement, product/service scorecards and other performance briefs through sales, onboarding and regular training through human resources, translating stories into formats a wider public can digest via the communications/community relations teams, and quarterly investor calls and financial filings through investor relations.
- Leveraging sustainability reports for the investment community
Investors see a strong link between ESG performance and financial performance. Positive sustainability performance sends a clear statement to investors that the company has taken the steps to assess and reduce risk, has potential for long-term value creation and improved revenue potential, instituted measures geared toward increasing efficiencies, is compliant with market expectations, has enforced effective management practices, retains and attracts a talented workforce and much more. By enhancing the awareness and the capacity of non-financial disclosure, company’s relationships with investment organizations of all types (retail investors, assets mangers, or institutional investors), will lead to gains key decision-makers have been eager to see materialize.
NEW GRI MODULES
After years of evolving the reporting practice in the United States, reporters are now asking, “What’s next?” ISOS Group’s experienced team is prepared to walk participants through ways in which they can reduce the reporting burden, and maximize the value that comes through strategic reporting efforts. Upon completion of our new set of practical modules, participants will receive global recognition directly from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). To support the next generation of reporting, the GRI Training and Coaching team, GRI’s Knowledge Unit and ISOS Group, are introducing these specialty modules for a limited period.
These modules are aimed at enhancing sustainability literacy and the skill-sets needed to leverage opportunities and competences that lead to broader brand recognition. In order to drive more purposeful reporting, modular instruction will be complemented by additional subject-matter expertise brought to you by:
|eRevalue||ACCO||Bloomberg||Glass Lewis||The UNGC||Corporate|
|- on risk identification||- on tips for GHG management||- on benefits of comprehensive ESG disclosure||- on engaging investors as a key stakeholder||- on business and the SDGs||- representatives attesting to their approach|
These interactive workshops are taught by working sustainability reporting professionals with in-depth knowledge of GRI and other leading global reporting frameworks including CDP, Integrated Reporting, DJSI, and the Sustainability Consortium’s (TSC) product level sustainability toolkits. A blend of instruction, individual and group exercises, guest speakers and real-world examples keeps the courses engaging and lively.