In the last of a three-part series focusing on CSR reporting, we cover which and how: which companies are creating reports and how you can get started.
In the previous two parts of the series, we answered the questions, “why produce a report and what do you report?” and also featured an interview with a CSR Manager about his experiences with the process and its byproducts.
At this point we hope you are intrigued and wonder whether your company is a good candidate to create a report, and if so, how should you proceed.
Which companies are creating reports?
Thousands of companies of all types, sizes and sectors around the world issue CSR and sustainability reports, and the number of companies reporting grows every year. According to an international study by KPMG*, 86% of the largest US companies publish a CSR report. And of the world’s largest 250 companies, 95% publish annual reports.
With the growth in the number of Benefit Corporations and certified B Corporations, we also seeing many more small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) produce a CSR report as part of their commitment to transparency and stakeholder engagement. Additionally, more SMEs are producing CSR reports in response to requests from larger companies seeking to screen their existing and potential suppliers.
How can you get started?
The initial steps you take on your journey to creating your first CSR report can make or break your experience. It’s important to make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you decide to go forward:
- Determine your intentions and timing. Define your purpose for reporting and the time frame (annually or biannually).
- Know your stakeholders. Determine who your audience will be and what’s important to this group so you can tailor your report appropriately.
- Be committed. Prepare to provide the necessary time and resources for data gathering and analysis, which could include surveys, assessments, and even focus groups. It can take up to 8 months to develop a solid report.
- Think about structure. Determine whether you’ll adopt a reporting framework, such as GRI.
- Tell your story in a fair and balanced way. To build trust, you need to be authentic, transparent and honest about any shortcomings; a report that only includes positives can be viewed as suspect.
- Have objectives. Be sure to set your company’s CSR goals and include them in your report.
- Leverage your efforts! Don’t stop once the report is done. Set some goals and continue to seek ways to improve your impact.
If you’re considering creating your first CSR report and aren’t sure where to begin, or you wish to improve your existing reporting, we’ll be glad to help. Visit our Sustainable Business Consulting page or schedule a quick consultation with me.