Survey: Reporting Indicates Company Sustainability

by | Jan 21, 2011

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The vast majority of those reading sustainability reports – 97 percent – say that sustainability reporting itself indicates that a company is improving its performance on sustainability measures.

In the poll commissioned by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), 60 percent of report readers also said that reading a sustainability report positively influences their commitment and connection to an organisation.

The survey of 5,000 readers and writers of sustainability reports was conducted by Futerra Sustainability Communications, SustainAbility Ltd. and KPMG.

Of companies writing reports, 65 percent said the top reason to report on sustainability performance is to improve internal processes.

Of those who read reports, more than half said they use the reports as a basis for investment and purchasing decisions, and 45 percent use the information to share their views on a company with others. About 40 percent said that sustainability reports had a positive impact on their behavior as a consumer.

“Sustainability reporting is busting out of its niche,” said report author Solitaire Townsend of Futerra Sustainability Communications. “New technologies mean report data pops up from smart-phone scans.

“New readers in emerging markets are talking about what they read, and choosing employers, investments and purchases based on ESG data. Calls for integrated and compulsory reporting are being seriously debated by governments and industry bodies,” Townsend said.

A survey by KPMG for the GRI last year found that 79 percent of 250 companies surveyed were reporting on sustainability information.

The Global Reporting Initiative produces sustainability reporting guidelines and hands out the Readers’ Choice Awards for good reporting. The winners last year were Banco do Brasil, Banco Bradesco, Vale and Natura Cosmeticos, all of which are from Brazil.

Last August the GRI and the Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project formed the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) to create a globally accepted framework for accounting for sustainability.

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