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  • Writer's pictureJim C.

Do's and Don'ts of Sustainability Reporting for Financial Companies: Telling Your Story the Right Way



Green shoots sprouting from a box

Sustainability reporting has become a critical tool for businesses to communicate their environmental and social impact. But with so much information to convey, it's easy to get tripped up. Here's a guide to ensure your report shines:


Do:

  • Focus on materiality: Prioritize the aspects most critical to your business and stakeholders. Don't overwhelm readers with excessive detail.

  • Embrace transparency: Be honest about your progress, challenges and future goals. Don't shy away from areas that need improvement.

  • Data is king: Back up your claims with clear, verifiable metrics. Use charts and graphs to make the information easy to understand.

  • Tell a story: Weave your sustainability efforts into a compelling narrative. Highlight success stories and showcase the positive impacts you're making.

  • Embrace clarity:  Use concise, jargon-free language. Make your report accessible to a wide audience, not just sustainability experts.


Don't:


  • Greenwash: Don't make misleading claims about your sustainability efforts. Focus on verifiable facts and actions.

  • Focus only on successes: While celebrating achievements is important, acknowledge challenges and demonstrate your plan for improvement. This will increase stakeholder confidence in your green communications.

  • Neglect stakeholders: Consider the needs of your diverse audience. Tailor the report's content and level of detail accordingly.

  • Skimp on design: A visually appealing report with clear navigation enhances user experience.

  • Forget to align with frameworks: Consider using established reporting frameworks like the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative, or GRI (globalreporting.org), or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board SASB (sasb.org) to ensure consistency and credibility.


Takeaway


A well-crafted sustainability report is a chance for you to showcase your commitment to environmental and social responsibility. By following these do's and don'ts, you can create a transparent and engaging document that builds trust with stakeholders and positions your business as a leader in sustainability.

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