Monday, 14 December 2009

A love-hate relationship

I have a love-hate relationship with sustainability reports.

I am a process guy, and I appreciate the rigor behind reporting:

1. Identify critical issues by engaging external people;
2. Set up a vision of your industry in a just and sustainable world;
3. Build processes that help you deliver your strategy;
4. Set ambitious, credible targets;
5. Monitor progress;

… et voilĂ , overtime your sustainability performance should improve, to the benefit of your bottom line.

Yet there are times when reporting drives me up the wall:
• A sustainability strategy that exists only in the head of sustainability specialists,
• Robust articulation of incremental innovation strategy, when the whole industry needs a re-think,
• Trivial metrics that reflect data availability rather than critical information.

I am all too aware that my theoretical approach does not always pan out.

I also have a hard time with the abundance of rankings and popularity votes, serving a small community of reporting experts. That’s why I am involved in the second edition of the Reader’s Choice Award. We start with basic reporting questions (perception of reporting, use of report, credibility) and ask readers for examples that best illustrate what they value (the infamous popularity vote).

Not only do we check these results with reporters’ initial goals, three of us also spend a lot of time dissecting the results. This extra layer of analysis provided by Futerra, KPMG and SustainAbility will result in robust commentaries on the state of reporting, for better or for worse.

So spread the word! The more participants the better.

JP Renaut,
Program Manager,


  1. Hi JP,

    I enjoyed reading your blog! So glad to hear that also in reporting an awareness is rising that presenting Facts & Figures only, does not engage all target audiences. Especially in today's uncertain world, contectual information in the form of examples that illustrate company values and strategy, are extremely important. I fully agree with you there. In fact, Facts & Figures are often only effective in communication with audiences who are already familiar with the company or subject. In economic downturn, they are unlikely a success in attracting new long term investors.

    I look forward to reading more on your blog.

    Regards, Brigit.

  2. Nice article.Many things describe about sustainability report.Readers will got many information about the subject.
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