Sustainability Reporting can be fragmented and confusing – what does the future hold?

The Toronto Sustainability Reporting Symposium takes place on September 22 – click here to secure your tickets – only a few spaces remain.

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As sustainability reporting specialists, we not only read a lot of sustainability reports, but also a slew of reports and papers that are published on the topic of reporting. A recent publication that stands out is Lost in the Right Direction by the global accountancy body, ACCA. The title perfectly captures the essence of the current state of sustainability reporting. While we are moving in the right direction, the report argues that sustainability reporting is fragmented and confusing, and it isn’t serving stakeholders in the way it was intended.

New expectations about corporate performance and an increased understanding of the complex global forces at play have raised the awareness of issues like human rights and supply chain impacts. This has increased the demand for new indicators to assess corporate performance but it has also brought to light certain shortcoming of our current methods for sustainability reporting, such as; a lack of clarity, cohesion, comparability and standardization..  

Interestingly, some of the activity around establishing new performance measures, such as the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, is being driven by the investment community. This isn’t surprising since investors stand to gain the most from a more coherent and standardized approach to reporting. This is the position underlined in the 2016 MIT Sloan publication Investing for a Sustainable Future: Investors Care More About Sustainability than Many Companies Believe. According to this research, only 60% of managers in publicly traded companies believe that good sustainability practices have an impact on investment decisions while 75% of senior executives in investment firms agree that a company’s sustainability performance is materially important to their investment decisions. This is a significant gap and represents a missed opportunity for companies to tell their sustainability stories.

Join us on September 22 to learn how your company’s reporting practices can benefit from better story telling on the issues that matter most and what the trends are for the future of sustainability reporting. The Toronto Sustainability Reporting Symposium takes place on September 22 and a few spaces remain. For information and to register, visit here and enter the code “TSSS” to receive a discount on your ticket price.
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Kathrin Bohr brings nearly 15 years of experience in the sustainability field to the Stakeholder Research Associates team. She has worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors, most recently as Director of Advisory Services at Intertek Group plc where she worked with international clients on supply chain engagement.