Sustainability reporting is the tool an organization can use in order to understand both its exposure to risks and potential business opportunities. They include a number of issues that directly or indirectly relate to the company and its activities and can be of interest to different stakeholder groups that are involved with the company. It is also the process of collecting and analyzing information and data necessary for creating long term value supporting transparency in environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements. Sustainability reporting is gradually becoming an essential business management tool, since it assists in convincing investors for the organizations long term existence. The question is no longer “should we report?” but “what and how should we report?”.
The latest research conducted by the Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE), focuses on the sustainability reporting trends that companies and organizations follow in North America, on the use of specific reporting standards and guidelines, and on the external assurance practices mostly followed.
This research was conducted by analyzing more than 400 unique sustainability reports in US and Canada that have been published in 2014. These reports were published by companies of all sizes (Large, Multinational and Small-Medium Enterprises) and belong to a variety of sectors. Financial Sector, Energy & Energy Utilities and Mining are the top three reporting sectors.
The results identify and verify some very interesting trends. For example, 82% of public companies publish sustainability reports in order to disclose information and be transparent about their sustainability performance. It is also interesting that there is a growing trend for Small-Medium Enterprises to publish sustainability reports in order to increase their transparency, attract customers and grow their businesses. The number of SME’s which publish sustainability report is expected to grow in the following years.
The reporting guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) remain the most widely used guidelines for conducting sustainability reports. However, there are still large brands which do not use GRI or other guidelines. It is worth pointing out, that the percentage of companies and organizations in North America that seek external assurance remains well below the global average, raising questions about the level of transparency and credibility of the data disclosed in the sustainability reports.
The full version of the research will be presented for the very first time in CSE’s upcoming Advanced Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Training (IEMA Approved) in Houston, Texas (Feb 25th) and Toronto, Canada (Apr 14th), and will be provided complimentary with all the Online Certified Sustainability Programs through CSE’s Sustainability Academy Initiative.
For more information contact: Sustainability@cse-net.org