Our Canadian partner, Sabrina Dias, President of Sabrina Dias Consulting (SDC) – a consulting firm specializing in bringing sustainability solutions to the extractives industry – navigates us through the often painful Sustainability Reporting process.
For most sustainability practitioners, producing their annual Sustainability Report is a labor of pain rather than a labor of love. It is a hectic and complex task of juggling several balls while begging a long list of team members for data.
More than just data collection and analysis, producing a sustainability report is a deep dive research process to validate the numbers and uncover the company’s sustainability stories. The creative part of the process includes skilfully writing those stories and designing the overall layout, which is wide open to criticisms.
In the end, are many people going to read your report? Probably not, other than a few board members, some government reps, and some NGOs. Perhaps, those keen individuals who completed your stakeholder survey will read it, to see the fruits of their critical contributions of labor. After all, these people are valuable stakeholders who have taken time and energy to share their opinion.
Effective stakeholder engagement is the first step in preparing for your annual sustainability reporting season. Engagement practices include anonymous online surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews conducted by an insider or a third-party. Here are some of my ideas and techniques for uncovering information during this process:
Everyone wants to be heard and know that they have been listened to. If you are asking for their time and their opinion, validate your stakeholders by approaching stakeholder engagement with the intention of truly focusing your sustainability strategy.
It is wise to get your house in order; to identify your wants and needs for this reporting year and decide on the key messages you want to convey to your key stakeholders.
I recommend establishing a checklist of critical questions to get organized, and have all your ducks in a row for the reporting season:
A detailed checklist is available on the SDC website here.
For SDC, Strategy and Reporting are interrelated and mutually supportive. We advise clients in how to use the reporting process strategically to drive performance, maintain active engagement with stakeholders and achieve measurable goals throughout the year. By managing and reporting sustainability data throughout the year, at reporting time you are then collecting and analyzing data that is reflective of your current state and your corporate sustainability goals.
An automated approach to data collection and analysis relieves the burden of manually updating and calculating your information that standard spreadsheets require. This, in turn, frees up the time typically required by various staff members for other pressing tasks. Automation also improves the rate of consistency in quality of data across sites and offices.
We work with our clients to find more creative and revealing ways of reporting sustainability data. For example, a typical data point to report is the percentage of women in a client’s workforce. We might seek to break it down by site, and further by Health and Safety statistics and see how these performance statistics are related, depending on what the client seeks. Automation provides a forum for easily accomplishing these objectives.
Learn more about Sabrina Dias and her team on Twitter and LinkedIn.