3 Reasons Why Your Next Sustainability Report Should be Digital
You’re used to hearing from Marion here on the blog. She’s been a part of the Publisher journey from the very start and has been behind the articles you’ve been reading. From now on and on a weekly basis, she and the team have brought me in to also contribute by drawing from my background, thoughts and experience in the (sustainable) development field. I’m excited to see what the next months will bring (and grateful for such a wonderful opportunity)!
My name is Adriana and although my background is in (EU) law, I’m currently specializing in Sustainable Development and Development Management. I’m passionate about nature, the environment and the complex ways in which we interact with it. I’m especially interested in what can be done, or rather should be done, at the international/intergovernmental level (it’s no secret that Paris, the city we’re based in, is hosting the COP21 later this year…). What really interests me about digital sustainability reporting, is how it can fit into the greater picture of tackling the environmental challenges of our era. Like in a big puzzle, it can be seen as one of the pieces that can help push the private sector towards greater environmental stewardship and responsibility (while providing a – truly global – platform to build transparency, trust, and engagement through an open dialogue with society).
In any case, the point here is that I recently came across a great article (in Spanish) on “3 reasons why your next sustainability report should be digital”, so I translated it and thought it would make a great first blogpost. There are well over three reasons of course, but this really hit home as it efficiently touches on some basic, yet important, points on digital reporting.
Here are three reasons why your next sustainability report should be digital:
Sustainability reporting offers a great opportunity for companies to share specific, timely and verifiable information on environmental, social and financial performance with their stakeholders. This makes it an ideal tool for measuring progress within organizations and an ally in long-term improvement processes. However, such reports run the risk of becoming a complete waste of time if they are not accompanied by a comprehensive communication strategy.
Increased transparency and public reporting are crucial for companies wanting to embrace sustainability by involving external audiences in the process. However arousing interest in reading the data that goes hand-in-hand with a yearly sustainability report is easier said than done. It can quickly turn into a significant communication barrier between any organization and its stakeholders. When done properly, however, digital reporting can help overcome this obstacle by making reports more accessible, attractive and easy to benchmark and compare.
When thinking about posting a digital sustainability report online, it’s not only about directly pasting a 100+ page text-file, but about making the most out of what technology has to offer. This will allow you to supplement and enhance your report through a format that facilitates lighter and more efficient reading.
Don’t forget that while a printed report translates into the distribution of a limited number of copies, digital reports are available anywhere, anytime. Stakeholders will be able to access your report easily and store it at their convenience, without worrying about it taking up too much shelf-space.
In addition, the optimization of mobile formats can be particularly useful (especially when it comes to circulating an Executive Summary). This will also help in widening the scope of your potential stakeholders, without excluding those with tight schedules or limited Internet access.
Digital sustainability reporting is designed to help you make the most out of disseminating your reports via social media, while reducing production costs and environmental impacts (as paper copies will not be central to your communication and distribution strategy).
- Attractive Content
Adding interactivity can be an excellent strategy to help make the most out of technology and lighten the load of reading a sustainability report (while also making content much more attractive to users). Through digital tools, companies are able to communicate with their stakeholders much more clearly.
Infographics, video content and even blogs can become excellent allies in publicizing an organization’s sustainability efforts. With the help of these tools, stakeholders will not only absorb and retain information more effectively, but they will drive the reach of your reports, through feedback mechanisms and social media ‘shares’ and ‘likes’.
- Analyzing Data
One of the greatest advantages of digital sustainability reporting is the ability to track content, generating better traction among users. Common tools such as Google Analytics, which can be supplemented with surveys and other strategies, can be of great help in obtaining solid references to better optimize information in the future.
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Finally, I happened to arrive in the midst of the process of improving and upgrading the Publisher. This really brought the team back to the heart of why digital reporting is the way to go, and to why they’re passionate about what they do. Easy-to-use technology to help digitalize your reports exists, it’s just a matter of realizing that there’s no need for it to be a difficult or complicated process.
What are your thoughts on digital sustainability reporting? Are you thinking of taking this route for your next report?