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5 Web Features to Make Your CSR Report More Transparent

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5 Web Features to Make Your CSR Report More Transparent

“Honesty” was the “Sustainability Reporting” buzzword last week on Twitter after Elaine Cohen published a great post entitled “When is CSR Reporting honest?“. This is an excellent question which Elaine answered perfectly from a content point of view…

As she put it:

“It’s the combination of both good and bad news and the consistency with which the company’s overall performance impacts are reported that creates a credible report and the feeling that we are reading an honest account of performance. “

But besides great content, how do you make sure that the way you present information fully reflects your honesty engagements? Being honest is also about opening the door to stakeholders dialogue and transparency, so what are the little features that your report must have to make your stakeholders feel like: “OK, they listen to me, I can trust them”.

Here’s 5 web features you shouldn’t forget in your next online Sustainability report.

1. Social media sharing buttons:

What’s the point of spending time gathering all your Sustainability data, measuring your performance and telling your Sustainability story to your audience if stakeholders cannot share what they’re reading with their friends, family or colleagues? If you got rid of your old PDF report, you’re already convinced about the benefits of putting your report online. Today, “online” means “social”, so don’t be afraid of facilitating your readers’ sharing experiences on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or whatever platform they love. 62% of global consumers report using social media to engage with companies around social and environmental issues, so what are you waiting for?


Transparency International Barometer 2013


2. A commenting system:

Too often, the only way stakeholders can have their say in Sustainability reports is by sending an email to an anonymous email address -does contact@ourreport.com ring a bell?- which they are likely to never read back from. Their comments are probably read but most of them want to share their feedback (good or bad) publicly in order to exchange with other stakeholders who may feel the same, but also oblige corporations to answer them. If you’re afraid of the potential negative feedback you may receive on your beautiful report, please DON’T. According to CONE COMMUNICATIONS’ last survey, “85% of respondents say it’s okay if a company is not perfect, as long as it is honest about its efforts.” Most of stakeholders are tolerant, all they’re asking for is sincerity.

BNP Paribas released an infographic presenting its sustainability performance and opened a public discussion around responsible banking.


3. Stakeholders views:

The responses to the “Count Me In” survey by the Global Reporting Initiative tells us that more than 50% of readers don’t have time to navigate deep websites to find the information they need. However, the “Reporting Matters” study tells us that length of Sustainability reports is 98 pages in average, the shortest report they reviewed being 16 pages long and the longest 780 (yes, 780!). Stakeholders can have the feeling that the key information they’re looking for is drowned among tons of information they neither really care about, nor find relevant to who they are. Offering a tailored view according to the main groups of potential readers (employees, customers, suppliers) is a relevant option to facilitate navigations and drive readers to topics they’re interested in.


4. Responsive design:

You report is online, have shareable buttons and a great commenting feature? Good! But are you sure all your stakeholders have access to it? Nowadays, most people access the internet through their smart-phones or tablets and your report should be ready for it. A responsive design “is a Web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors)”. Some companies also choose to provide their report as an app’ to download on the App’Store, like highlighted in the SMI-Wizness Social Media Sustainability Index.

Made-By’s Annual Report 2012 was readable on smart-phones and tablets.


5. Chart generator

Even if your report’s online, you should take into account stakeholders who may want to keep a paper version of your report to read at home, in the train etc… They may also want to be able to study all of your charts “at once” to play with your Sustainability data or download them for later. Give them the option to choose among the pages or charts they want to download and among different export formats (PDF, Excel, JPEG…).

SAP Integrated Report 2012


Is any of those features planned for your 2013 Sustainability report yet? If not, take a look at our Publisher features  and get in touch with us! We’re here to help!

1 Comment

  1. Oliver Hurrey Reply

    Some great advice. We at 2degrees have found that generating really useful feedback and insight to your report can be managed even better to deliver really productive responses. It is also important to follow up and respond to the feedback itself.

    We crowd-sourced hundreds of young sustainability professionals from around the world to feedback on O2 Telefonica’s report. Here is a link to the blog that outlines the results and O2’s response:


    Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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