Using Powerful Infographics to Communicate on Sustainability
Last week was a busy one at Enablon Publisher. We attended the Sustainable Performance Forum (SPF) EMEA Conference here in Paris and now we’re getting back to business. A lot of interesting ideas were discussed, especially during the morning workshops (Day 1), so we have plenty of blog-worthy material to work with!
Getting to see some great keynote presentations also made me reflect on the ways in which we choose to display and present information to maximize impact and get our message across. Since I’ve recently been seeing and working around more infographics, I’d say there are two lessons I’ve learned:
1) They look deceivingly simple.
2) You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to come across an infographic that’s not just good, but great.
Not only is it important for the information displayed to be relevant, interesting and accurate, but you also need to consider what you’re communicating with your design and who your stakeholders are. When used smartly, infographics are not only a great way to shine a light on topics people might normally find “unattractive”, they also work extremely well on social media and can help build traction among internal and external stakeholders (those who are already invested in and interested in what you’re doing).
There’s a great deal of potential in communicating around sustainability (and sustainability reporting) through infographics. If you can break it down and put it into words, you can create an infographic on it. The nature of infographics allows you to communicate on anything from “tips” and visual “how-to” guides to more complex workflows and processes (or why not? On what you need to know to adopt the latest GRI reporting framework).
Without going too far, I’d even say that (through the right channels and in the right hands) infographics have a role to play as tools to help fulfill well-known ethical principles of sustainable development, such as intragenerational and intergenerational equity (let me assure you, NGOs and international organizations already know this – just have a look at Greenpeace’s Twitter account). In other words, aren’t awareness raising and the dissemination of information around sustainability a first step in advancing towards a sustainable future?
Are you more likely to read a 30 page report on “the State of Sustainability Reporting in Africa” or to have look at a well-constructed infographic on the same topic and feel compelled to read up on it? Why not embrace how we communicate and consume information today (and encourage people to make better choices while we’re at it)?
Now that we’ve touched on the role infographics can play in positive decision-making around sustainability, why not look at what they can do for sustainability reporting? I think we all agree that communicating around sustainability reports (or reports of any kind) can be tricky, but a well-timed ‘#Infographic’ Tweet just before the release of your report, for instance, can serve as a great ‘appetizer’ to get people talking about what’s to come. To better illustrate my point, below you’ll find four examples of clear and well-designed infographics on sustainability reporting:
- PricewaterhouseCoopers: “Sustainability reporting tips, What gets measured gets done”
- UN Global Compact: “Going Mainstream, The State of Sustainability Reporting”
- 2Degrees: “CSR Reporting Spend: Are your peers spending more than you?”
- Lavola: “Transitioning to G4, main highlights”
I hope this gave you something to think about. In my opinion every bit counts, and if anything, I’d love to see more (and even better) infographics on sustainability reporting. How do you think infographics can help improve communication around sustainability reporting? Can infographics on sustainability positively impact the choices you make?