Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting is a great way to get buy-in and support from senior managers who must make public statements and commitments towards sustainability.
August 8, 2011
by Brett Wills
Many companies are demanding suppliers report progress towards attaining greater sustainability. Meeting these expectations will help retain current customers while attracting new ones. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting is also a great way to get buy-in and support from senior managers who must make public statements and commitments towards sustainability. In the process of developing a CSR report, your company will also take stock of current progress, have a means for showcasing these efforts to stakeholders and develop a structure and plan for moving forward.
Here are some tips for getting started:
• Assessment. Ask a few simple questions. When looking at climate change, resource depletion and other sustainability trends, what is the impact on the company, environment, community and people? What risks and opportunities do they present?
• Develop a sustainability vision. What is the future desired state? For example, is neutrality the goal or to be regenerative and have a more positive impact?
• Organize for sustainability. The buck needs to stop somewhere. Develop a governance structure that places accountability and responsibility for sustainability at key levels within the organization. All departments play a role, including finance, human resources and operations.
• Establish metrics. Develop sustainability KPIs that will measure progress. Identify critical success factors and metrics. For example, KPIs may include a carbon or water footprint, employee turnover, volunteer hours or philanthropic contributions.
• What’s the current state? Measuring the sustainability KPIs will provide a clearer picture of where your company currently stands in relation to the sustainability vision. Where does the organization excel and where does it fall down?
• Visualize a future state. With a clear picture of the current state, develop goals and targets for each of the KPIs and lay out a plan for achieving them.
Looking for more guidance on CSR reporting? Check out the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) www.globalreporting.org, the international gold standard for sustainability reporting that provides step-by-step guidance for developing a report.
Brett Wills is the director of the Green Enterprise Movement and a senior consultant with High Performance Solutions in Cambridge, Ont. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.