How YOU can create a solid foundation for high-quality sustainability reporting

Zazala Quist
You have this big pool of sustainability data. Now- what do you do with it? In this article we go through the key steps from data to strategy- together with our implementation partner Nexio Projects.
Foundation for sustainability reporting_Ecochain

Sustainability reporting is no joke. Companies often struggle with collecting the right data and creating concise and focused reporting on their sustainability matters. 

We teamed up with our amazing partner implementation Nexio Projects on how you can tackle that big pool of sustainability data in your company. And turn it into high-quality sustainability reporting.

Step 1. Assess both your social and environmental impact.

In reporting, there is often a main focus on the environmental part. But, sustainability includes both social and environmental data. Environmental data covers all the impacts your business operations (value chain, etc.) have on our environment. Social data covers your HR, governance, and other types of impact (wellbeing, safety, living conditions, etc.) of your business operations on people and social life. Often they even influence each other. Both are crucial CSR points for reporting and should be included for a complete report. 

Step 2. Identify which sustainability issues are most important for your company and important stakeholders. 

It’s important you identify which impact issues are important for your company. This includes two things:

Analyzing your social and environmental impact hotspots

Every company and industry will have different kinds of impacts on the environment. Regardless, you should always focus on your biggest impact hotspots for maximum results. Which environmental impact indicators are most prominent for you? What social considerations really need all your attention?

For example, your biggest environmental impact hotspots could be:

  1. Greenhouse gas emissions in the customer use phase of your products;
  2. Land use in your raw material production. 

And your biggest social hotspots could be:

  1. A lack of fair labor practices for workers in your raw material production;
  2. Low diversity in your workplaces.

Conducting stakeholder management

This can be as simple as talking to your employees, clients, partners and finding out which of your impacts/issues are important to them. Combining this information with your impact hotspots ensures you make a proper impact. With everybody on board.

Step 3. Create a sustainability strategy with clear measurable targets based on your insights.

With your hotspots and stakeholder engagement results, you now decide what you are actually measuring. And set targets that you can actually measure. Always create and set up a monitoring process from the beginning. This way, you don’t forget you need to measure and have to do unnecessary work halfway through your reporting year e.g. to make sustainability claims. 

Step 4. Align the different teams in your company on the measurement process

You’ll need other people in your company to measure all the relevant data for your sustainability reporting. Mobilize the different teams within your company, and make sure everyone is aligned on measurement deadlines. (e.g. quarterly, after half a year, annually). This ensures that what has to be measured- is actually measured and ready when you need to produce a good sustainability report. 

High-quality data is key. Many companies- particularly in big industries, need to understand that they need to create a specific profile to manage the sustainability data. Most of the time they say the facility manager has all the data. But these are two different concepts. To have the data, and to learn how to organize it, clean it, use it.

Cesar Carreño-Chasin, Lead Climate Team at Nexio Projects
Listen to our full podcast with Nexio Project: How to create a Sustainability Report that stands out.

2. Final general reporting tips from Nexio Projects:

1. Use an external reporting platform- e.g. the GRI 

This ensures you produce a report that is solid and robust and has everything that a good sustainability report should have. 

2. Create a specific job profile for managing your sustainability data

Managing (gathering, cleaning, analyzing, reporting) sustainability data is a full-time job that many companies underestimate and struggle with. 

3. Always use high-quality data

If data is not properly arranged, not high quality, and not properly stored, you can’t do a lot with it. High-quality, well-managed data is the key to reporting processes. It’s a necessity for having really accurate reduction results.

4. Don’t make an endlessly long report stacked with all kinds of information

The best kinds of sustainability report Nexio has seen, are very concise, clear, to the point. And only cover the most important topics because they created focus in their strategy foundation (hotspots + stakeholder management). 

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