With a growing number of people researching social and environmental performance while making buying decisions, looking for jobs, and seeking partnership opportunities, more and more companies are creating sustainability reports. A well-written report is the best way to communicate your company’s commitments and actions — regardless of your size — but all reports are not created alike. The following best practices for creating a meaningful corporate social responsibility (CSR) report will ensure yours stands out and inspires others to make a difference.
- Link the reporting process to support company goals and strategies. CSR reporting should be part of your overall brand strategy.
- Define a cross-departmental CSR reporting team of subject matter experts (SMEs) and engage them early in the reporting process.
- Leverage the reporting process to identify risks and opportunities for the company.
- Set realistic and measurable goals and report progress in an open, honest and transparent way. This will build trust and further stakeholder support and engagement.
- Measure the success of the company’s report in part by the value it delivers to the business. Does the report help the company manage its risks better, improve processes, retain top talent, increase employee engagement, build brand loyalty, identify cost savings opportunities, etc.?
- Know your audience and know how to engage it.
- Develop an annual Stakeholder Engagement Plan to track the engagement methods and frequency for each stakeholder group.
- Gather feedback on your social impact and sustainability initiatives from your stakeholders and incorporate their feedback into your sustainability initiatives.
Report Style & Content
- Engage through storytelling; identify at least one story for each key section of the report.
- Provide the right balance between images, text, and data.
- Maintain a tone of authenticity, objectivity, and balance in what is being reported.
- Help readers easily recognize the company’s social and environmental impacts and how the company is addressing them.
- The report should not exceed 10,000 words.
Report Format & Channels
- Follow the Global Reporting Initiative‘s (GRI) Reporting Principles and Guidelines.
- Deliver content in the format and through the channels that are most relevant to your target audience. Go beyond the printed report. Provide content in multiple formats such as digital, flipbook, video vignettes, and infographics.
- Leverage content to serve multiple purposes, such as internal employee communications, sales and marketing, employee recruitment, etc.
If you’d like to learn how your business can harness the power of social responsibility to improve and grow your business, let us know. We offer a range of services, from assessment to program design.