Following the Singapore Stock exchange’s (SGX) announcement that all listed companies will need to report on sustainability as of 2018, a small heatwave has swept across many of the corporate air-conditioned offices of our little red dot.
Typical concerns raising the ambient temperature include: not having data to report on; reporting on initiatives that are of little wider interest; or having to disclose information not always flattering to the company.
So here are some of our tips for sustainability reporting without breaking a sweat.
- SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
Preparing your first sustainability report takes time so don’t leave it until the last minute. Of course you’ll need to understand the process and figure out how to collect data. But most importantly, use the time to ensure your senior management is fully on board and sees the value of disclosure.
- NOT EVERYTHING IS MATERIAL
Nobody wants to read a report that records every single activity that took place last year. But by reading it, your audience should be able to understand the issues that are material – read relevant – to your company and your stakeholders. Use language that is easy to understand and content that is relevant. If you work in a carbon-intensive sector, your report should disclose how you mitigate your carbon footprint; whether you offer a vegetarian option at the canteen is frankly optional.
- EVERYONE CAN BE A STORYTELLER
Don’t let sustainability reporting become a box-ticking exercise that nobody wants to be part of. Consider it an opportunity for everyone to tell your story. Explain the values that encapsulate what your company stands for and how they create, well, value. Help everyone show how managing environmental, social and governance risks helps you maintain and grow your business.
- THERE’S NO HIDING FROM TRANSPARENCY
Remember that the key purpose of sustainability reporting is to drive improvement. It’s the story of how you make your business strategy sustainable. Embellishing the truth not only undermines the credibility of the report and puts the company’s reputation at risk; it also sets you up for failure next year when it comes to reporting on improvements in performance. Accepting you’re on a journey in a changeable environment will help you show where you’ve excelled and acknowledge where you can still do better or set more ambitious goals.
Since you’ve read this far, we’ll let you in onto a little secret. Often internal stakeholders feel let down once the report is published. They’ve spent considerable time gathering information and data (on top of their day job), only for the report not to generate the same level of unbridled enthusiasm they’ve invested into the task. So to avoid disappointment, keep a newsworthy story in your back pocket for the launch to create buzz and attract traffic to your report.
Check out the latest sustainability report salt Singapore has planned, written and designed, here