Every company should address the environmental and social impact of its operations, and have a governance process that stakeholders can trust. This is important because it is essential for brand reputation. It is also the right thing to do, to help protect our planet and to look after people.
In preparation for an ESG report, we typically organise a series of meetings with relevant staff to discuss the organisation’s sustainability ambitions, understand the existing initiatives under the E, S and G headings, and discuss any interesting case studies that can be used in the report to highlight the work that organisation has already undertaken.
A part of a reporting strategy will be to choose the most relevant and effective sustainability KPIs and data points.
Things to consider will include:
- Ease of collecting the data
- How closely they match to GRI reporting standards, as well as other reporting standards and rating agency requirements
- Storytelling potential
We follow a seven-step approach for the effective development of an ESG report. These steps are distinct elements of an overall roadmap and allow for a modular approach whereby all or some elements can be undertaken.
- Audience (clients, staff, suppliers, others)
- Scope (all business, part of the business, all regions)
- Company beliefs
- Existing policies
- External positions
- Web pages / blogs
- Internal comms
- Supplier / partner comms
- Material issues
- Operational issues
- Issues focused on by Peers / clients
- Industry benchmarks / best practices
- Choose framework for sustainability strategy, monitoring and reporting
- Identify which standards will be consulted
- Address potential concerns about greenwashing
- Articulate overall position on sustainability
- Cover different elements of relevant environmental, social and governance agenda
- High-level statement
- Supporting policies for specific issues and areas of operation
- Develop KPIs
- Comms materials
- Web content
- Internal comms and training
- Supporting documents
- Buyer training
- Sharing policy with suppliers
- Responsible procurement
- Determine who monitors progress against commitments
- Methods of monitoring and reporting
- Frequency and format of reports
- Collection of data
- Governance and oversight of the sustainability policy
- Determine who delivers on commitments
Existing material / policies: We review any ESG policies that are already in place. We explore questions such as:
- Are there any external positions that have been developed already that are relevant to the ESG report?
- What has been published on the website?
- What has been shared with staff?
- What ESG policies have been shared with suppliers and partners?
- Will the report cover all operations in all regions, or a subset for now?
- Would the policies highlighted in the report be similar in all regions?
Materiality analysis / benchmarking / gap analysis: The main reporting frameworks, such as GRI, require a thorough materiality analysis as a necessary first stage of the reporting process. We work with you to quickly understand what has already been done and what may still need to be undertaken to ensure we have solid base upon which to build the ESG report.
Reporting framework: We have extensive experience with using the main sustainability standards to structure and write the report, and then cross-reference to the standards. There is an increasing desire for a uniform and common set of reporting standards and GRI is gaining a substantial following, after support from major investors such as Blackrock and State Street, as well as organisations such as the World Economic Forum and the International Business Council. We will advise on the most effective ways to collect the information internally to ensure it complies with the GRI requirements.
Writing the ESG report: We think the company wants to cover issues around carbon and broader environmental issues such as water use and waste; human rights, supply chain and responsible sourcing, health and product safety, workplace and employee issues, diversity and inclusion, as well as the impact on the wider local communities, including charitable initiatives; and finally the governance of the ESG programme.