A sustainability report presents disclosures about the environmental, social and economic impacts caused by an organization through its activities. A sustainability report should also present information about the organisation’s values and governance model, and explain the link between these and its strategy and commitment/s to sustainability. A sustainability report is a valuable tool that can help an organisation be transparent and accountable to both internal and external stakeholders. It should also aim to promote organisational change.

The value of sustainability reporting is that it helps to minimise risks posed by the organisation’s activities by providing a blueprint for how to manage the business, thereby serving as a planning tool to improve business operations, providing a benchmark of current and past performance and encouraging set improvement targets.

For example, if energy use is high within an organization and it is reported on, the information is visible and provides a platform to measure improvement targets against. Similarly, if an organization sources goods from overseas from companies that are not known to be environmentally or socially responsible, a target could be to audit all suppliers within the next reporting year to measure their level of commitment to environmental and social sustainability. If it is found through the audit that they do not have adequate processes in place, a target could be set for the following year, to engage suppliers that are environmentally and socially responsible.

Sustainability reporting can serve as a differentiator in competitive industries, as it helps organisations to:

  • Develop or refine an organisations’ sustainability vision and strategy.
  • Improve management systems of people and data.
  • Improve internal processes.
  • Identify weaknesses and strengths.
  • Attract and retain employees.
  • Connect often siloed parts of the business.
  • Achieve competitive advantage/parity and leadership in sustainability.
  • Attract investors.
  • Enhanced reputation, achieve trust and respect.
  • Transparency and dialogue with stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated commitment to sustainability.
  • Compare and benchmark against other organisations within the same and different sectors.