Sustainability reporting: Seven questions CEOs and boards should ask

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1. Who issues sustainability reports?

More than 3,000 companies worldwide, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500.

2. Why report on sustainability if you don't have to?

Increasingly, external stakeholders such as institutional investors expect it. Reporting can also bring operational improvements, strengthen compliance, and enhance your corporate reputation.

3. What information should a sustainability report contain?

Reports should contain key performance indicators relevant to the reporter’s industry. Four principles for deciding what to include are materiality, stakeholder inclusiveness, sustainability context, and completeness.

4. What governance, systems and processes are needed to report on sustainability?

Governance requires a high-level mandate and clear reporting lines. Also needed: robust systems and processes that help companies collect, store and analyze sustainability information.

5. Do sustainability reports have to be audited?

Not yet. But they are being more closely monitored than ever before. As this trend continues, users of sustainability information will come to expect that the information has been validated by a reliable third party.

6. What are the challenges and risks of reporting?

Sustainability reporting presents many challenges, including data consistency, striking a balance between positive and negative information, continually improving performance and keeping reports readable and concise.

7. How can companies get the most value out of sustainability reporting?

Sustainability reports should be mandatory reading for all employees, and can be a valuable tool for communicating with external audiences as well. Setting targets in the form of KPIs also forces the organization to meet publicly stated goals, which makes reporting an accountability tool.

Download the full report: Seven questions CEOs and boards should ask about triple bottom line reporting