Why have a sustainability report?

Eight reasons your business needs a sustainability report (no matter how small it is)
Eight reasons your business needs a sustainability report (no matter how small it is)

Sustainability reports are the primary way that companies tell the world about their environmental efforts and opportunities. A page or paragraph on a website is a good place to start, but a dedicated report shows that you’re going beyond the marketing, and that you’re committed to going further with your sustainability activities.

These reports look different for every business – some might be short and simple, others might be long and complex. But as more consumers and investors put sustainability at the top of their agenda, the case for having a report gets more persuasive. Here we look at eight reasons why your business – no matter what size it is – should make creating a sustainability report a priority.

1. It helps you reach an eco-minded audience

As climate change becomes a big concern for more and more people, consumers are increasingly looking for sustainability in the goods and services they buy. Research by McKinsey shows that 75% of Millennial shoppers choose products based on their sustainability credentials, while a study from WWF reveals a whopping 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods over the past five years. A sustainability report clearly demonstrates how you’re able to meet these expectations.

2. It helps to focus your sustainability efforts

There are lots of moving parts in a sustainable business, so it’s easy to miss important connections between elements of your operations, or to overlook the things you’re actually doing well. Creating a sustainability report means bringing a wide range of data together in one place and taking a 360-degree view of the way you’re doing things. This often highlights areas that need special attention, which helps you channel your energy in the right direction.

3. It holds you to account

Greenwashing is becoming an increasing problem as businesses try to capitalise on consumer demands for sustainability. Publishing a sustainability report, however, means you’re willing to be held up to scrutiny. You might not have all the right answers yet (and remember, no-one is doing sustainability perfectly), but being transparent about what you do and what you hope to achieve creates trust with customers and clients, and pushes you to do better.

4. It helps to inspire employees and attract talent

By 2030 the global workforce will be dominated by Millennials and Gen Zs – both groups that are increasingly looking for a sense of purpose in their careers. One survey shows that two-thirds of people within these groups want the company they work for to act sustainably, while another shows that 40% would take a pay cut just to work at an environmentally responsible company. Publishing a sustainability report shows current and future employees that you take your impacts seriously and are committed to making a positive difference.

5. It makes you more attractive to investors

One of the many benefits of being a sustainable company is the reduced business risk of climate change threats, such as disrupted supply chains and volatile pricing for things like energy and materials. Being able to manage these risks means your business is more resilient and – according to a study by Harvard Business Review – more likely to perform better in the long run. These are the things investors look for when they’re deciding where to put their money, so having a sustainability report that shows investors how you’re taking action on these risks can reassure them that you’re a good investment choice.

6. It gets you ahead of reporting obligations

Sustainability reporting is voluntary in most countries for now. However, a number of legal changes in the UK, EU and US means that stricter disclosure obligations are on the horizon, and businesses will eventually be expected to report on their sustainability performance in some shape or form. This is a way off for small companies, but getting to grips with your data and reporting processes now gives you a head start and means you won’t be scrambling around unprepared at the last minute.

7. It opens up opportunities for partnerships and collaboration

Every business is responsible for taking climate action, but no single company can take on climate change by itself. Having a sustainability report shows you’re open to tackling the social and environmental problems faced by businesses like yours, and creates a launchpad for discussions, collaboration and opportunities with other companies, industry groups and local communities.

8. It improves your reputation

Companies that demonstrate their commitment to sustainability consistently top brand reputation charts. On the flipside, a quick look on social media shows how quickly unsustainable companies are turned against and vilified. Having a sustainability report improves your brand reputation, not just because of the factors listed above, but because it ultimately shows that you’re trying to do the right thing for the world. This is something people value now more than ever before.

Every company, large or small, should have a sustainability report to showcase the important work they’re doing to protect people and planet. Whether you’re a one-person start-up or an established national company, ethy can help you create a sustainability report that fits your brand and goals. Get in touch today for more information on how we can support.

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