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Time to report

The last payments for 2020 are made. The books have closed. Now is the time to start reporting. Usually, the financial report gets priority. Timelines are clearly set by legislation and internal regulations. Less clear are the timelines for non-financial reporting.

Yet, as investors’ interest in and demand for non-financial reporting has drastically increased in the past 2-3 years, it’s time to prepare the non-financial sustainability report.

There are different ways on how to manage the task:

  1. Self-reporting: Companies collect data and write the report in-house. Often, you can recognize these reports because of the abundance of different writing styles and forms of presenting data within the report.
  2. Outsourced sustainability reporting: Sustainability is a strategic question and cannot be outsourced. Only sustainability reporting can. In this case, companies prefer to tender or engage directly with a trusted expert company to compile the data and write the report. The consultant is in close contact with one key person (typically, the sustainability manager) or connects directly with the different departments responsible for data collection.
  3. Many companies are doing something in between. The company compiles the data and writes some bits and pieces here and there. An external consultant collects the necessary elements and compiles a sustainability report following certain standards, such as GRI or SASB.

There also exists a fourth type of sustainability report, written by communications experts and tending toward a story-based approach rather than one focused on facts and standards. I have omitted this type of sustainability report from the above list, as this type of report tends to have an increased risk of being criticized for greenwashing or SDG washing.

It goes without saying that a company needs to ensure that there are staff whose responsibility and training focus on sustainability issues. In addition, top management needs not only to endorse but also to embody, the key sustainability commitments.

If you would like to take this discussion further, if you have any questions, or if you are interested in starting your own sustainability reporting journey and are seeking support, we welcome you to reach out to our experienced team. We’re sustainability report experts and enthusiasts, so we’ve got you covered!