Many companies are currently preparing their sustainability report or non-financial report. “That’s a lot of effort and work, but what's in it for me?”, you might ask. Make no mistake: especially in COVID-19 times, companies have a lot to gain from transparent CSR communication. We’ll tell you why!
Stakeholders are becoming increasingly critical of the ecological and social impact of companies. How they reduce their CO2 emissions and prevent plastic waste. How they deal with health in the workplace. What they do to help eliminate inequality in the world. Your customers, employees and business partners want to receive thorough information about all these issues, so that they can draw their own conclusions.
So it’s up to you to show your stakeholders what you are doing to contribute to their sustainable future. Today, more than ever before, you have everything to gain from doing so. The sustainability report as a smart investment? Absolutely, and here’s why:
1. Employees and job applicants prefer credible employers
Millennials and the up-and-coming generation find it important to work for a sustainable employer, studies show. In the war for talent, a sustainable company has a big advantage. With a sustainability report that has been drawn up according to the rules of the game, you show the job market that you are taking up your social responsibility.
You can bet that your vacancies will be filled more quickly.
2. A sustainability report as a tool for risk management
Boards of directors and management boards are faced with the task of making their business strategies more sustainable. They want a clear view on the ecological and social risks of their business – loss of permits, unforeseen expenses, a bad reputation, etc. – so they can manage them in an informed manner. And they want a plan, to be able to seize new business opportunities with both hands. A sustainability report provides managers with the necessary data to make well-founded decisions and anticipate new developments.
3. You show that you are creditworthy
The highest risks for financial institutions are the (indirect) risks of their customers. Banks are under great pressure to stop financing businesses with a bad environmental or social image. If a company does not have its negative environmental or social impacts under control, it will appear negatively on the financial radar. With a sustainability report, you can show your CSR performance in black and white, which makes you stronger in financial negotiations.
4. A sustainability report helps shape your CSR strategy
Have you been planning for a long time to work on your CSR? Then this post-COVID-19 period is the right time, because studies show that companies that are resilient survive crises better. Even if you are still in the process of shaping your sustainable strategy, a sustainability report is a useful instrument. See it as a kind of baseline measurement: where do I stand, as a company, with my CSR policy? By establishing your starting position, you can shape your sustainability strategy in a more focused way.
Tip: involve your employees in your sustainability project from the very beginning. In this way, you create internal support, and your colleagues are positively triggered to help spread your sustainable story.
5. Customer is king
Sustainability has become mainstream and, as a result, consumers are increasingly critical of brands’ green claims. They will notice if companies boast about things that are already standard in the market or make promises they cannot keep. Transparent and honest communication about your CSR approach is crucial to prevent this from happening. In times of fake news and disinformation, a sustainability report is therefore a must-have for your marketing communications.
Oh yes, and a final comment: the time that you could present your sustainability report as a boring PDF on your website is well and truly over. We are happy to help you find out what a sustainability report looks like in the year 2020 and how to get the most out of it.