Top 10 Tips for Sustainability Reporting in 2021

A collaboration piece between IsoMetrix and Frostbyte Consulting

With Earth Day approaching quickly, IsoMetrix, a leading EHS and ESG software provider, and Frostbyte Consulting, an EHS services and support consultancy, teamed up to celebrate our joint commitment to a greener planet.

We sat down with Frostbyte’s Head of Sustainability, Andrea Korney, and IsoMetrix’s Head of Sustainability, Michael Dae, to share our top tips for sustainability reporting straight from the experts. With investors and other stakeholders cracking down on the importance of transparency in sustainability reporting, these tips and tricks to set your organization up for success could not have presented themselves at a more appropriate time.

Top 10 tips for sustainability reporting in 2021:

1. Start with a clear understanding of your stakeholders
Think beyond just your shareholders and remember to consider your clients, customers, employees, suppliers, neighbors, opposition groups, and the communities your organization impacts.

2. Set short-term and long-term sustainability goals and track your progress towards them
Defining your baseline and setting goals will give your organization benchmarks to measure success against and targets to strive towards. Tracking progress along the way will provide you with hard data to show improvements made and milestones reached over the years. It will also help you understand how your organization reached its goals and where it should concentrate its efforts moving forward.

3. Develop a clear strategy on required reporting versus voluntary reporting
When we say, “required reporting,” we’re referring to sustainability reports mandated by law. Your company is required to comply and therefore needs to have a strategy in place to develop these reports timely, efficiently, and accurately. An example of “required reporting” is the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) enforced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which demands annual reporting from large, emissions-intensive organizations in the USA. “Voluntary reporting,” on the other hand, is not required by law, but it can elevate your corporate reputation significantly and help spur investment in your business. An example of “voluntary reporting” would be disclosure of your company’s Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas emissions. In today’s day and age, where stakeholders and governments alike are becoming more environmentally conscious, your organization needs to have a plan to tackle both types of sustainability reporting to thrive.

4. Complete a materiality assessment and review different types of frameworks that could be used for your assessment
A materiality assessment will require input from both internal and external stakeholders, but it will be worth your while when determining what is most important for your sustainability reports versus what is most important for your overall sustainability strategy. Each materiality assessment framework has pros and cons depending on your industry and target audience.

5. Hire a consultant if you don’t have the expertise to navigate materiality assessment frameworks in-house
Materiality assessments are crucial to sustainability reporting. They are also time consuming. You will want to do it right the first time around. If you feel overwhelmed navigating the frameworks in-house, don’t hesitate to source some help. There are consultancies dedicated to helping you succeed. The fact is there’s substantial overlap between the many frameworks available to you, and a materiality assessment with an organizational maturity analysis can help you decide on the correct path.

6. Align your reporting to your strategy and ensure you evaluate the quality of data going into the reports
Complete a gap analysis and determine your strategy to close any voids that could hinder your short, medium, and long-term sustainability goals. Part of having good quality data and is having clear visibility and standardized data collection processes across your organization. Having the right technology in place can help tremendously, which brings us to tip 7.

7. Implement a sustainability software program to improve data accuracy, provide visibility and streamline reporting
Sustainability software will ensure data is tracked and reported accurately. It will standardize data across your business for easy comparison and analysis by site, region, manager, etc. Sustainability software also facilitates sustainability reporting by generating reports automatically and in the correct formats for various disclosure frameworks.

8. Understand the audience the data is for
Different stakeholders have different priorities. Align this to your strategy and disseminate the information accordingly.

9. Transparency is key
Sustainability is an evolving space that is being thrown into the spotlight as time goes on. People appreciate the desire to “go green”, and they understand nothing is perfect. They value honesty where there are shortcomings as long as they are accompanied by plans to improve. The reputational impact of under-reporting failures and breaches is significant and has a longer-term cost than initial transparency into gaps and areas for improvement. Commit to progress and track the success of that commitment.

10. Tackle the social elements of sustainability
Given the more abstract nature of social sustainability elements such as protestors and grievances, proving the ROI is more difficult. However, the business case is there, and it is critical for impact across the entire value chain. High risk industries in particular are experiencing more stoppages to their operations due to social elements than at any other time.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can improve your sustainability reporting, get in touch with IsoMetrix and Frostbyte today.

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