Areas of a business a sustainability report covers.

Areas of a business a sustainability report covers.

Areas of a business a sustainability report covers.

 

Sustainability reports are an important way for organizations to track their progress in achieving sustainability goals. The reports should cover all aspects of the organization that intersects with ESG concerns.

That might sound simple, but it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which areas of your organization to focus on. In this article, we’ll be doing our best to dispel that confusion by providing a framework for determining which areas of your organization to report on.

What is a sustainability report?

A sustainability report is a document that outlines an organization’s efforts to improve its environmental and social performance. This document can track progress, identify areas of improvement, and set goals for the future.

There are many aspects of an organization that can be included in a sustainability report. The following are some of the most common:

 

The areas of your business Sustainability Report Covers
The areas of your business Sustainability Report Covers

 

 

  • Environmental performance: This includes everything from energy consumption to waste management.
  • Social performance: This includes employee satisfaction, community engagement, and human rights practices.
  • Corporate governance: This includes how the organization is run and how it decides.

While not these topics will be relevant for every organization, it is important to consider all of them when creating a sustainability report. By including a variety of topics, you can provide a comprehensive overview of your organization’s sustainability efforts.

What areas of your organization should you report on?

The areas of your organization that deserve a place in your report will depend on the makeup of your organization. As a general rule, any area of operation that intersects with one focus on sustainability reporting (i.e., environmental, social, governance, and fiscal) should be reported on.

Let’s cover some relevant areas of operation in a bit more depth:

The areas of your business Sustainability Report Covers
The areas of your business Sustainability Report Covers

Sales

At face value, sales practices don’t seem like they intersect with the focuses of sustainability reporting in a major way. However, there are definitely cases where they do. Here are a few of the intersections that might apply to your organization:

  • Product lifecycle (e.g., product lifespan, products sold)
  • Energy consumption (e.g., power usage, commuting)
  • Team culture (e.g., employee satisfaction, benefits)

While these examples might not apply to your organization, they do warrant careful consideration.

Marketing

Similarly, marketing can often intersect with social responsibility and environmental impacts, despite a lack of connection at face value. Here are a few potential intersections:

  • Green marketing (e.g., using sustainable materials in your advertising)
  • Cause marketing (e.g., supporting a charity or social cause)
  • Reducing waste (e.g., using recyclable materials in print ads)

Again, these examples might not be relevant to your organization, but it is important to consider all potential intersections when reporting on sustainability.

Operations

The operations of an organization can often have a significant environmental and social impact. Here are some examples of areas that you might want to report on:

  • Manufacturing processes (e.g., chemical use, waste production)
  • Packaging and shipping (e.g., use of recycled materials, carbon emissions)
  • Employee satisfaction (e.g., working conditions, benefits)
  • Community engagement (e.g., charitable work, volunteerism)

Like the other areas we’ve covered, these are just a few examples—your organization will likely have its own unique areas of operation that need to be reported on.

Research and Development

Research and development is often seen as a more environmentally and socially responsible sector of an organization. This is because it can often lead to the development of more sustainable products and processes. Here are some potential areas of R&D that could be reported on:

  • Product development (e.g., new products, product lifecycle)
  • Process development (e.g., new manufacturing processes, wastewater treatment)
  • Green technology (e.g., solar energy, wind power)

It’s important to remember that research and development can encompass a wide range of activities, so make sure to investigate all aspects of your organization’s R&D department when creating your report.

Finance

Sustainability and finance are two topics that can be difficult to reconcile. However, there are many ways in which they intersect. Here are a few examples:

  • Carbon emissions (e.g., reducing carbon emissions, offsetting)
  • ESG investments (e.g., choosing sustainable investments)

The list could go on, but these are some of the most common intersections between sustainability and finance. As you can see, it is important to report on both environmental and social aspects of your organization’s financial performance.

Human Resources

Human resources are an often-overlooked area of the organization that can have a significant impact on sustainability. Here are some potential HR issues that could be reported on:

  • Employee satisfaction (e.g., working conditions, benefits)
  • Recruiting and training (e.g., hiring sustainable employees, training employees in sustainability)
  • Retention (e.g., keeping talented employees, reducing turnover)

Like the other areas we’ve covered, these are just a few examples—your organization will likely have its own unique areas of HR that need to be reported on.

Distribution and Supply Chain

The distribution and supply chain of an organization can often have a significant environmental and social impact. Here are some examples of areas that you might want to report on:

  • Purchasing (e.g., sustainable materials, Fair Trade certified)
  • Shipping (e.g., carbon emissions, use of recycled materials)
  • Inventory management (e.g., reducing waste, recycling)

Again, these are just a few examples—your organization will likely have its own unique areas of distribution and supply chain that need to be reported on.

Public Relations

Public relations is another area of an organization that can have a significant impact on sustainability. Here are a few potential PR issues that could be reported on:

  • Community engagement (e.g., charitable work, volunteerism)
  • Brand identity (e.g., promoting sustainable branding, reducing the environmental impact of advertising)
  • Media relations (e.g., positive press coverage, responding to negative press coverage)

Like the other areas we’ve covered, these are just a few examples—your organization will likely have its own unique areas of PR that need to be reported on.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every organization is unique, and each sustainability report should be tailored to the specific needs of the organization. However, by considering the areas listed above, you can get a good idea of what should be included in your report.

About the Author

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Based in Dubai for over 10years, Peter Caush is the founder of Sandpaperme.com and TheSchoolAgency.com.
A trusted authority on digital marketing Peter is passionate about helping SME’s grow their business in the Gulf region. 
When he’s not in the office Peter enjoys playing squash, often more times than his knees can cope.

About Sandpaper

At Sandpaper We have been around long enough to realize the importance of good report writing, research, and design. A thoroughly planned and executed report builds loyalty and trust among stakeholders.
In the 10 years of service, Sandpaper has managed a stay ahead of its competition; by developing and adapting to changes in both the global and local corporate landscape in the United Arab Emirates.

Annual Reports : Sustainability/Environmental, Financial/AGM, Impact and special focus.

Sustainability Reports, Annual Reports 90%
Report planning, research, collating, drafting, copywriting, proofing 50%
Concept creation, layout design, infographics, photography 70%

View the latest work Sandpaper has designed and published.

Peter Caush

Peter Caush

Director Sandpaper

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