25 Quotes That Will Convince You About Online Sustainability Reporting
I’ve been blogging a few times about the fact that PDF is no longer an option when it comes to publishing your CSR report or communicating about Sustainability. As explained in How Can Social Media Improve Sustainability Reporting?, stakeholders can’t really have their say in current Sustainability reports, which are often long documents that no one can comment, read on mobile devices or share on social media.
A vast majority of CSR professionals share the same conclusions, as the Storify of the lastest #3BLChat “CSR/Sustainability Reporting: A Marathon Not a Sprint” will show you. However, some companies are still afraid of the consequences of publishing their environmental and social data in full transparency, and would rather hide their report in the back of their websites.
If you need to convince your boss that your organization must reconsider its CSR publications, or simply get your head refreshed with great content, here’s 25 inspirational quotes that will prove you online reporting is the way to go!
1/ “Frequently updated web-based reporting can be more effective and efficient than a once-a-year snapshot.” (Rajesh Chhabara in EthicalCorp WhiteBook: Make it regular)
2/ ” The consequence of the multi-purpose, multi-user approach is that current non-financial reports tend to be ‘all things to all men’, averaging 60 pages in length and aiming to provide detailed data for experts and analysts alongside design standards and narrative intended to appeal to a more general reader; long documents full of information in search of an audience.” (Multiple Messages Report by SAB Miller, Acona and JohnstonWorks)
3/ ” If we are talking purely about non-financial/SD reporting then I think that flexible web-based tools will come to dominate this field of reporting. There are so many different potential stakeholder groups that any other sort of mechanism seems rather pointless.” (Roger Adams, Director of ACCA in the same report)
4/ “Your CSR website is your company’s fastest and most effective tool for communicating with your stakeholders, whether through blogs or other social media channels. The use of video and interactivity can engage your viewers and enhance their online experience.” (CSR Trends 2010 Report from PWC)
5/ “New media mean that the days of a single sustainability report may be numbered. Multiple platforms enable companies to target distinct messages to distinct audiences. They allow for two-way communication.” (Aron Cramer in BSR Leading Perspectives)
6/ “Web 2.0 holds the promise of greatly facilitating and enhancing the effectiveness of sustainability reporting as a vehicle for corporate accountability.” (Bill Baue and Marcy Murninghan in The Accountability Web : Weaving Corporate Accountability and Interactive Technology)
7/ “Social media and sustainability reporting should be a perfect match. Across the world, trust is shifting from traditional authority to peer and word-of-mouth. […] A report designed to be explored, where data is simply extractable and information is easy to share on social media, will far surpass a flat PDF file.” (Futerra, SustainAbility & KPMG Reporting Change Report)
8/ “Hyper-transparency is a must. It’s not something we should be afraid of; it’s something we welcome.” ( Jim Hanna, Starbucks Environmental Impact Director in The Guardian)
9/ “Go Digital. Raise your hand if your company’s CSR report sleeps in obscurity as a PDF file on the corporate website. If you raised your hand, you’re not alone. Let’s be clear, PDF files are extremely low cost. They are also extremely boring. That’s why more and more companies are discovering the power of turning their reports into platforms that are easily found and foster engagement, even providing a digital ecosystem for regularly updated reporting and stories.” (Jonathon Hensley in TriplePundit)
10/ “CSR Reporting and social media are a match made in heaven. On paper. In reality it’s hard to find outstanding examples of transparency truly using social media.” (Solitaire Townsend in GreenBiz)
11/ “In an increasingly digital world, companies reporting on their progress toward sustainability are starting to turn toward electronic delivery. While such moves make business sense, they come with a new set of challenges.” (Erin Fletcher in GreenBiz)
12/ “How significant is the number of customers, suppliers and even employees who take the time to download a sustainability report and learn about its performance, achievements and challenges? […] It is obvious that producing those big reports is not practical. Some companies have gone digital and have designed microsites for their reports, offering easier access from smartphones, tablets and other popular mobile devices.” ( Monaem Ben Lellahom in CSRWire)
13/ “Just having a robust social media platform to communicate a company’s sustainability reporting is not enough; firms need to incorporate social media into an overall communications strategy and have top management plug the efforts to boost authenticity.” (Guy Morgan from the BSR in Environemental Leader)
14/ “Companies [like Microsoft, GE or Cisco) use dedicated CSR websites and blogs to focus on Social Responsibility.” (Vikas Vij in JustMeans)
15/ “The first and most important fact corporate leaders must understand and accept is that transparency is not an option. It is a reality that permeates every aspect of society, which is more than evident if we look at words that did not exist a decade ago, or which had totally different meanings: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Social Networking.” (John D. Wiebe in Globe-Net)
16/ “A word about format. As online has become a dominant medium of communication these days, you should consider making your G4 fully accessible online and mobile-ready via an app for smartphones and tablets. Getting your report to people that want or need to use it has been easier. App it!” (Elaine Cohen in Understanding G4)
17/ “Finally, it is a must to take advantage of the technology that exists today — the very technology that we mentioned is “taking over the world,” so to speak. You can’t beat it, so join it. There are so many different and exciting ways to “join” and be creative about it.” (Melissa Wicinski and Jennifer Griffith in Greenbiz)
18/ “As reporting matures and technology allows, organizations will continue to have more robust conversations with their stakeholders from online forms and surveys to conversations on social media. Companies that take the time to listen and respond to stakeholder interests will have the advantage of developing even more effective reporting.” (The Future of Sustainability Reporting: 10 Trends on Emotive Brands)
19/ How should reported information be divided between web and print/PDF formats? […] What is the relationship between reporting and our other communications, such as social media? (Dunstan Allison Hope in Greenbiz)
20/ Moving to an all-web format increased readership from 2,500 to 50,000 in three years, according to SAP Chief Sustainability Officer Peter Graf in Greenbiz.
21/ In the early days of the internet, companies responded by simply publishing PDFs online. That failed to capture the fundamentally new opportunity and way of communicating on the web, and a similar approach to social media is equally uninspired. Instead, we need to think in entirely new ways about information shared and debated via social media. (Aron Cramer in The Guardian)
22/ “CR reports are often not an easy read and companies should seek to communicate the information in more digestible and engaging ways.” (on Thomson Reuters blog)
23/ “An effective way to spread your message is to infuse more social elements into CSR communications and reporting. From customers to partners to employees, ‘social’ allows stakeholders to participate in the conversation, provide their own feedback and share what you’re doing with other people.” (Sharon Beattie in Sustainable Brands)
24/ ” One hundred thirty-four downloads out of 360,000 homepage visitors in one year: that is what one of Denmark’s largest information technology companies, KMD, got out of spending over 1,000 hours on publishing their most recent corporate sustainability report (CSR) report. In other words: big effort – small gain. […] So what to do? Maybe you can do what KMD did. They are now including a short section about their CSR efforts as part of their annual report, and have instead focused their main efforts on telling their CSR stories throughout the year through a variety of their other communication channels.” (Tania Ellis in Eco-Business)
25/ “Digital really seems to be the only option here. This permits content to be controllable [re-written] by the audience. A report is constructed in building blocks allowing various audiences to reassemble the report that they want to read or need. Disruptive reports create nodes of information that allow the audience to read into the narrative based on their perspectives and agendas. ” (John Rooks in Environmental Leader)
I hope you no longer doubt that the future of Sustainability reporting and stakeholder engagement is online and social. If you’re worried about the time and resources to invest in designing such digital reports, we developed a toolbox so you can easily create and publish your CSR report online, including templates based on the GRI G4 or CDP frameworks. We’re here to help, so don’t hesitate to give it a try!