Sustainability Reporting: Obstacle or Opportunity?

Whether sustainability reporting is a requirement or an ethical choice for your business, it can be daunting to newcomers. While there are parts that will be confronting and challenging there are benefits to be had. Here are a few things to expect.

It’s going to get uncomfortable.

You aren’t perfect. You will have to face that. There is a high likelihood that you are causing negative impacts. Before you go down a shame spiral though, embrace that impact. If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong you can’t fix it. Once you’re aware you can plan to stop and even repair the impact. 

There’s hard work ahead.

It’s called reporting but this isn’t a tick-and-flick exercise. Once you understand your operations impacts, you need to build strategy and systems to improve what you’re doing. A sustainability report that shows everything is awesome has no credibility. Track your progress and if it’s not good, report on what the strategy to improve is.  

You’re responsible for your supply chain.

Sustainability reporting isn’t limited to your operations. You’ll need to get comfortable exploring the impacts of businesses up and down your supply chain and working with them on their impacts or find new ones with better ESG credentials. The good news is, if you’re part of someone’s supply chain and you’ve done the work, you’re going to be more attractive to other businesses.

It’s not as hard as it sounds.

So yes, there is work to do and new concepts to understand but it’s not going to break you. Chances are your business already details some of the things in a sustainability report anyway. It’s a different way of reporting on your operation, potentially bringing new understanding. On top of that, there are a wealth of resources and frameworks to help get it right.

It’s a strategic tool.

Did we mention opportunities and improvements? The requirement to go beyond just presenting what you do and actually planning to improve is a great driver for strategy. By having an impact (remember they can be positive too) lens on your business, it’s like having fresh eyes. You’ll see things that you hadn’t before and perhaps even become more systems thinking oriented. It keeps you accountable, requiring you to revisit and report on your progress.  It will even open up opportunities to innovate to add value to the business and to customers and consumers.      

Your transparency builds reputation.

Aside from accountability and improvements, being open and honest about your impacts, good and bad, builds confidence in your business. Anyone that clearly owns their impacts and seeks to improve is going to become a trusted brand, attracting customers and talent.

Initial perceptions of sustainability reporting are usually around its complexity. But it can be manageable with existing resources and frameworks. It serves not only as a compliance tool but also as a strategic driver for innovation and improvement, providing fresh insights and enhancing a company’s reputation through transparency, attracting customers and top talent aligned with ethical values.

Ultimately, sustainability reporting is not just an obstacle but a pivotal opportunity for businesses to thrive.

The Purpose Edit
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Curated insights for conscious organisations and entrepreneurs shaping a just, fair, and sustainable economy. We handpick the most interesting reads and resources from 50+ newsletters on strategy, innovation, and climate change.

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The Purpose Edit

Curated insights for conscious organisations and entrepreneurs shaping a just, fair, and sustainable economy. We handpick the most interesting reads and resources from 50+ newsletters on strategy, innovation, and climate change.

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