Measuring progress on sustainability is a complex task as it’s always hard to see the value of an intangible asset. However, even if they’re still not quite obvious to everyone yet, intangible assets are as impactful as tangible assets to business profitability.

Stakeholders now ask organizations to be socially and environmentally sustainable, as well as to adhere to responsible business practices. Corporate social responsibility and sustainable management have become important parts of organizations’ strategy and their day-to-day operations.

But how can you gauge your actions? How can you measure something intangible?

Organizations have become used to produce an annual sustainability report. But is a sustainability report really helping to measure the success of your strategy, or is it only a glossy marketing document?

 

Sustainability reporting: overrated and useless?

The reporting landscape is crowded with different standards using all kinds of acronyms: GRI, IIRC, CDP, SASB or TCFD.  Everyone wants to guide you during your reporting process.

Yet, some complain that reporting is too complex and takes too much time. Sustainability reporting may distract attention from sustainability strategy.

Indeed, Tim Mohin, the new head of the Global Reporting Initiative says: “Companies produce these beautiful 100 plus-page reports full of glossy photos and marketing materials, but outside the company they have little impact and is largely ignored by the mainstream investment community.”

While Tim Mohin wants to see more sustainability reporting, he thinks the glossy CSR report is well past its sell-by date.

The real question is how to make sustainability reporting more relevant for the company and its investors?

Not only are CSR reports usually ignored by investors; they also have minor impact on C-suites.  Upper-management doesn’t see the point. They don’t take the time to read it or they don’t feel concerned.

Yet, sustainability teams take a lot of time to create it. It seems that it’s their only job for half the year. And it appears like it prevents them from acting.

“Sustainability teams need to be story makers, not storytellers.” – The 2018 Redefining Sustainable Business BSR’s report.

 

However, sustainability reporting is crucial for business and should not be discarded. Publishing information and making it public creates a powerful incentive for performance improvement and it helps focus on crucial issues to company success.

When your sustainability report goes out into the world, you must stand up for your actions and take responsibility for your failures.

“Reporting has an effect to solidify program management. There is a difference between high quality and low quality, and this pushes higher quality outputs.” – The 2018 Redefining Sustainable Business BSR’s report.

Instead of looking for the greatest pictures and the most diplomatic words, you should focus on optimizing your report.

How?

  • Be concise, consistent and comparable.
  • Don’t get bogged down by details. Focus on what’s important for your organization.
  • Don’t hesitate to collaborate with other departments. It will have more impact on your reporting.

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Sustainable Development Goals – The importance of having clear objectives

Have you ever heard of the Sustainable Development Goals? 193 countries in the UN came together and agreed on global priorities and aspirations for 2030.

Now, to achieve these sustainable goals, businesses need to do their share of work.

According to GRI, every organization should align their sustainability strategy with the SDGs and concentrate on these objectives.

In fact, they worked with the UN Global Compact and World Business Council for Sustainable Development to create SDG Compass Guide, a guide available in 13 languages to help companies understand and align their strategies with the SDGs.

The guide explains how the SDGs affect your business – offering the tools and knowledge to put sustainability at the heart of a strategy business.

It’s a clever way to measure your concrete actions and see your impact in the future, not just for your company but for stakeholders and the environment.

 

Sustainability reporting: Getting to the next level

Did you know that with Boréalis’ Monitoring and Evaluation solution, you can define, centralize and track key indicators from sites to the corporate level? Monitor activities, track sustainability performance, set objectives, and identify improvement opportunities! You’ll be more than ready to measure the success of your sustainability strategy. Contact us to learn more.

About Patrick Grégoire
While working on a major pipeline in 1998 Patrick had the creative epiphany which led to the establishment of Boréalis. Companies were just starting to consider community and social risk as part of the execution of their projects - and the implementation of international social impact programs was still in its nascent stage. Six years later, Boréalis was born and rapidly grew into a leader in the Social Performance marketplace. Implementation of the Boréalis solution with global players in the natural resources arena validated Patrick's vision for success. For the past two decades, he has continued his leadership role in major infrastructure initiatives around the world - including pipelines, transmission lines, hydro-power, mines, oil fields, wind power, roads, port, and railway projects.

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