Six growing trends in corporate sustainability

Trend 1: Sustainability reporting is growing, but the tools are still developing

  • Share, which tracks corporate responsibility reports worldwide, counted 26 reports in 1992. In 2010 it counted 5,593.

As sustainability continues to rise in importance inside companies around the world, demands for accountability are growing louder.

They come from diverse players, varying by sector and geography, but generally include:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Investors
  • Shareholders
  • Policymakers
  • Activists
  • Analysts
  • Suppliers

Each group has its own set of interests regarding the topics that concern them and the level of depth and detail they want to know about company activities and impacts.

Respondents to our survey cited continued strong interest in sustainability from key constituencies. 66% reported an increase of inquiries over the past 12 months from shareholders and investors about sustainability-related issues.

Just over half of those citing an increase in sustainability-related inquiries said that investors or shareholders wanted to know about the company’s publication of a sustainability report.

To meet these growing demands for disclosure and transparency, companies are publishing reports, mostly annually. Where reports once focused primarily on operations, they now also look at products from a life-cycle perspective, from raw materials and resources to the final disposition of goods at the end of their useful lives.

How do you compile the data for your reports?

EY - How do you compile the data for your reports?

But the growth of reporting is limited by the tools companies are using to produce them.

Based on our survey responses, those tools remain rudimentary compared with those used for reporting on financial measures.

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