Are Interactive Maps The New Must-Have of CSR Reports?
I couldn’t help but notice two very interesting and similar tweets in my Twitter feed last week. The 1st one was from Cola-Cola Enterprises, stating as follow:
— CocaColaEnterprises (@CokeCCE) July 23, 2014
And the second one was an RT from SABreweries, the South-African Breweries, only a few seconds later :
— SABreweries (@SABreweries) July 23, 2014
These caught my attention as they pretty much exposed the same message: “Come have fun exploring our Sustainability map!”. I knew, from the Social-Media Sustainability Index we sponsored last year, that companies like Timberland, Patagonia and Nike were already using well-designed and informative maps to “demonstrate their global sustainability footprint”. But as the trend seems to keep growing, I found myself wondering: where are we standing today? What companies have excelled in publishing interactive cartographies to map their sustainability activities or supply chains? And what are the best practices when it comes to designing and publishing such a map into a CSR report? Here are the results of my investigations.
Out of the research I’ve made on Twitter and dozens of Sustainability websites, I identified several distinct map-concepts that were all suitable for Sustainability reports. Here are 6 of them, coming from 6 different companies:
- Coca-Cola Enterprises Sustainability Map: Looking like one of those “manage a city” video games, the map refers to the whole Sustainability report, designed as such. The different points highlighted on the map send back to the different sections of the report, which you can zoom in to focus on a specific district presenting the sub-sections. Each page can be shared on Twitter, G+ and Linkedin and the whole concept is explained through a question mark button at the top of the page, presenting the different items. For professionals or stakeholders really interested in learning deeper information about Coca-Cola, a selection of items will offer additional documents or fact-sheets to download. The map in general definitely gives a very user-friendly and attractive overview of Coca-Cola Sustainability activities. It sure turned out to be catchy and entertaining… which is not applicable to most “traditional” CSR reports.
- SAB Miller SAM Tool: This one is more than just a matrix… it’s a map detailing information from SABMiller Sustainability Assessment Matrix (SAM). Not only does the tool provide an overview of their global performance through a global scorecard, it also enables users to zoom into a specific country to view a local scorecard (with dozens of incredibly interesting statistics). Users can also navigate according to different priorities (Responsible Drinking, Water, Packaging etc…) and compare statistics for each different issues since 2011. This map is so attractive that you can easily spend an hour navigating the site without even noticing it! Well-done!
- Cisco Global Impact Map: This quite simple (but effective!) map offers a general overview of Cisco CSR programs, partnerships and business practices all around the world. Even though you can zoom into continents to see Cisco’s impact in specific regions, you rapidly need to click on the different items to access other pages which detail each activity and program. It’s still informative because it enables readers to have a worldwide view of Cisco’s CSR presence, classified by colored icons according to more general Sustainability topics (Education, Environment, Healthcare, Supply Chain…). I, for instance, learned that Cisco started an employee engagement program to protect bees in Paris…which has extended to Great Britain and the Netherlands. Since then, the program has raised more than 6000 euros through honey sales, involving more than 500 people in the community.
- Microsoft Local Impact Map: This map doesn’t exactly belong to a Sustainability Report but is available within the Corporate Citizenship section of Microsoft’s website. Similar to Cisco’s map, it lists all the CSR stories of Microsoft around the world, but on a more local level. Users can directly nagivate through the map, but also filter initiatives by country or by Sustainability topics, and play with different looks of the map.
- Ford’s “Map of Our Year”: This map doesn’t geographically presents the key initiatives of the company but originally presents the key milestones of Ford’s Sustainability journey for the reporting year. This very smart format does not only enable readers to learn about Ford’s key achievements, but it also help the audience better understand how the year was organized: new waste reduction goal in February, water futuring workshop in May…etc.
- Nike’s Global Manufacturing Map: I couldn’t list Sustainability maps without mentioning one of the best responsible supply chain maps one could find in a CSR Report. Nike’s map let us understand its complex supply chain and browse the list of suppliers by brand, product type or event. For each listed supplier, you’ll learn the number of employees, the percentage of female and migrant workers and the product type they are manufacturing via a very detailed supplier form, which also provides a contact name, address and telephone number. On a global perspective, the map enables to see the amount of suppliers for each region, facilitating comparisons among different countries. Did you know that Nike’s supply chain in China gathers no less than 33 factories, representing 87 295 workers?
So, what are the best practices to remember and apply out of these 6 case-studies? Here are 6 top-recommendations:
- Choose the right kind of map according to your industry, company or Sustainability maturity. From the examples above, we can note 6 different concepts for your Sustainability map:
- a “sustainability report as a map”,
- a sustainability assessment matrix map,
- a global impact map,
- a local impact map,
- a “map of our year”,
- and a manufacturing map.
- If you do it, do it well. Hire a designer or a user-experience specialist to make sure your map will be easy to understand and navigate into. Use colors and joyful designs (in accordance with your brand image!) to make it as attractive and user-friendly as possible.
- Make sure you offer several points of entries to access the data: by countries, by Sustainability issues, by suppliers, by years, by entities…
- Provide different levels of information: a more general one, directly available on the global map, and focused stories in which users can zoom into if they want to learn more about a specific topic.
- Use informative data: metrics and figures are usually not as attractive as stories and business cases for general audiences but using a map can change that! Provide insightful numbers into your map to illustrate the context of your initiatives.
- Remember your map is supposed to be interesting but most of all: EN-TER-TAI-NING. The whole point of adding a map to your CSR report is to make users want to click and play with it, in order to learn about your Sustainability journey without even noticing it. Coordinating a map is a tremendous amount of work but don’t get bored, enjoy and have fun!
Have you heard of any other Sustainability Report Maps that could fit in the above list? I would be happy to read about them in the comments!