With this article we want to tell you 7 key points to face any challenge when preparing CSR reports. Our experience helps us to have a more effective communication and to avoid any unforeseen event. Let’s see it!
Key 1: Understand the meaning of CSR for your company
Although many of the aspects of CSR are derived from the expectations that stakeholders place on our organization, understanding how decisions are made in this regard within the company is key to understanding the strategic value of CSR and knowing how to explain it.
The 6 capitals approach outlined in the International Framework of the Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) can be of great help to us. It will allow us to connect the business model with the creation of value, encouraging us to think more broadly and consider all possible sources of value creation.
Key 2: The method of conducting a CSR
The method, although apparently simple, requires deep internal reflection to determine how the company’s decision-making, activities and results affect these 6 capitals: financial, industrial, intellectual, human, social and relational, and natural.
The complication is that we do not have to consider these 6 capitals as watertight departments, but we have to detect how they interrelate. For example:
- Allocating funds to restore ecosystems affected by our activity would influence natural and financial capital.
- Talent retention policies could be directly related to human and intellectual capital.
- The management of the end of the useful life of the machinery would have a connection with the natural and industrial capital
As we pointed out in the article Integrated reports: communicating the creation of value, the traditional risk assessment methodology could also help us analyze what environmental, social and governance factors (internal and external) can affect the company’s results.
Key 3: Plan the contents
The contents should not be designed based on what the organization wants or can tell. They must be based on the responses sought by those interested parties with the ability to influence the company’s results.
It is the famous principle of Materiality included in most of the reporting standards. But perhaps the qualification made by the IIRC in its Framework for the preparation of integrated reports is the most interesting:
An issue is material if it can substantially affect the organization’s ability to create value in the short, medium and long term.
In this sense, big data analytics can be very useful in detecting influential stakeholder concerns and future trends. In-person consultation rounds can also be very fruitful, as long as they are approached in a spirit of active listening.
There are many and very interesting proposals that are made in these meetings and, in addition, they offer the opportunity to empathize with potential readers and detect how we could get the information to them (type of language, amount of information, channels, formats, etc.).
The scope of the information
The limits and scope of the information will also need to be established at this stage. They will be determined by what answers influencers are looking for on material issues. An analysis of the context and trends that affect the company’s results could help in this regard.
Finally, tell you that the GRI auditor will ask you for information on how you have approached this stage of content planning. You will have to justify what criteria you have used to determine which stakeholders are the main ones and which issues are material, in addition to reasoning the limits and scope that you have established.
Key 4: Do not lose the traceability of the information
The information gathering stage begins. In addition to the information that GRI requires all organizations to report in general, you will have to identify which indicators are directly related to material issues and to your sector.
In addition, there will be information that you have not detected as material but that you think is important to include in anticipation of future trends that may influence the business. It might even be a good time to adapt the report to the new GRI standards.
You have to request the information from your colleagues and try to provide it. If we are able to make them understand the connection of the information requested with the creation of value of the company, we will have them much more motivated. And, if we also use new technologies, everything will be easier.
The auditor will ask you to demonstrate the traceability of the data. And, again, you will have to turn to your companions. So it will be advisable to include a box indicating the origin of the data and the calculation method used.
Key 5: In addition to communicating, you will have to convince
Explaining how the company creates value over time requires a lot of effort when writing.
It is not a question of dwelling on explanations (the GRI principle of completeness only refers to the inclusion of all material matters). Remember that the report can refer to other sources where more information is available.
It’s about being clear and concise in explaining what’s behind the numbers. It is not a question of saying that we are doing the right thing, but of explaining what effects (positive or negative) what we do have on the company and its environment of influence.
- It is important that they understand you.
- Empathize with the way your readers see and understand things.
- Play with language.
- Use design to highlight key messages.
For this stage we will also have to take into account some technicalities that will be required by the auditor. We must include the list of material issues and GRI indicators that correspond to each one.
In addition, we must indicate on which pages we collect information on these indicators. Some auditors may even require us to flag such an indicator on the page where it appears.
Key 6: Communicate thinking about what they want to know, not what you want to tell
You have managed to have a holistic vision of how the way your company operates integrates and affects social, environmental and corporate governance aspects. Now you have to communicate it and many will want concrete answers.
As we said before, the rounds of consultation with the different interested parties will allow us to know what concerns them. Take the opportunity to ask them what explanations would be the most appropriate.
Extract the information, adapt the language and play with formats, designs and channels that allow you to make your communication more effective. As we pointed out in the article, how effective is your communication in CSR? on many occasions communication on demand is recommended.
Key 7: Detect opportunities for improvement
The relationship with stakeholders must be two-way. Establishing an effective dialogue with the audience of our CSR information will allow us to improve. And not only in purely communication processes; also in those of value creation.
For both aspects, it would be very useful to have tools that allow us to know the degree of effectiveness of the measures implemented.
The methodology itself is not complicated. You just have to determine how to measure what you want to achieve. The difficult thing is to obtain the information since it requires a follow-up of the effects caused by the measures.
Example to detect an improvement opportunity
If it is established as a measure to hold training sessions to raise awareness about climate change among employees, the data to be analyzed is not the number of participating employees. It is the CO2 that they have stopped emitting due to the implementation of the guidelines given in the training
Perhaps it would have been more effective to invest in energy saving devices? Much work remains to be done in this regard.
It’s our turn: How do we do it in Bartica?
At Bartica we are experts in the design of annual, integrated and corporate responsibility reports. We are aware of the value that a professional layout that establishes reading levels and integrates custom graphics and infographics can bring.
What is our goal each time we carry out CSR reports? Our goal will always be to develop an best children’s book illustrations and layout that enrich the content of the publication, add value, and make it more accessible and attractive. Thus, we take care of processing the relevant information in the report, such as:
- Company milestones.
- Business model.
- Mission, vision and values.
We take into account all these aspects, among others, and we turn them into personalized infographics that show your company information in a creative and unique document.
Time for CSR reporting!
I hope this article has been useful to you and that you now have a better understanding of the different challenges that you normally have to face when preparing CSR reports.
That is why it is so important to have an expert company in making CSR reports. Experience is what will bring quality to your CSR reports.
In a survey carried out by Apso’s for Greenpeace, it can be seen that climate change is the main environmental concern for 55.8% of citizens. And it is that climate change influences fundamental factors such as the increase in temperature and the rise in sea level.
Climate change international regulations
To alleviate these effects, in December 2015 the Paris agreement was signed, considered the first binding agreement on the global level on climate, and which was accepted by 195 countries.
That agreement puts the limit on global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, a series of sustainable energy policies are developed that affect companies.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 13), in force since January 2016, also urge companies and society in general to adopt measures against climate change and its effects, and bet on clean energies, preservation of ecosystems and responsible consumption.
The non-profit organization Carbon Disclosure Project measures the commitment of large companies to the environment. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index is an international index that evaluates companies under environmental criteria.
Which sectors are the most affected by climate change?
Companies play a fundamental role in reducing climate change, since their activities influence the level of greenhouse gas emissions.
For this reason, companies are committed to carrying out strategies for reducing emissions and achieving a low-carbon economy. They can also help promote energy efficiency in society.
The electricity sector
The electricity sector is highly influenced by climate change, with companies such as:
- Red Electrical, which since 2015 has been working towards a sustainable energy model.
- Iberdrola, which is committed to innovation to guarantee sustainability and seeks to introduce renewables in final energy consumption.
- Ends, with the objective of carbon neutrality for the year 2050, and which has implemented several projects to improve energy, increase the demand for electricity and decarburization to reduce emissions.
The gas sector
Engages works for the efficient use of natural gas, the displacement of the most polluting fuels and the implementation of renewable energies and biogas.
The agro-food sector
Companies such as Nestlé admit that livestock has an influence on climate change , and works to reduce direct and indirect emissions in its Spanish factories and to preserve natural resources by reducing the impact on the planet.
At Group Calve, they want to do things better, and for this reason, they are working on the design of public objectives of responsible commitment with a horizon of compliance to 2025 in three main areas: oceans, environment and people.
The industrial sector
The Gestapo Group is committed to introducing Climate Change within the business strategy.
Henkel anticipated international agreements and has been working on its sustainability strategy since 2010. It has adapted its reporting system to the SDGs, to monitor its contribution and evolution.
The financial sector
Companies are inclined towards reducing their carbon footprint. According to the Finance Initiative of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP FI), financing of $ 60 trillion is necessary until 2050 to move towards a low-carbon economy.
- Banco Santander is committed to financing clean energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
- BBVA proposes to help its clients make the energy transition towards a low-carbon economy through sustainable financing.
- Banksia works towards a low-carbon economy and finances sustainable products, such as electric vehicles.
- Caixabank develops a three-year plan to reduce the carbon footprint through renewable energies.
The ICT sector
The SMARTer2030 study indicates that the sector can achieve a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Telefonica seeks fuel reduction, the use of renewable energies and energy efficiency, and supports the digital transformation of the economic model worldwide.
Vodafone has its Sustainable Business Strategic Framework, which includes the development of innovative telecom solutions related to energy that facilitate the reduction of energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases.
The consumer products sector
Leroy Merlin is committed to education and awareness for the development of sustainable practices, with products and training for citizens.
At Coca-Cola, they are committed to extending their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% to the entire value chain, involving suppliers and customers in climate action.
In conclusion: the involvement of brands with climate change
As you can see, companies are increasingly involved in this environmental cause. And it is not surprising, because, after all, the public involvement that each brand has is a boost for it. Which is, at the same time, an opportunity to take advantage of this social responsibility and “clear” consciences in many marketing strategies.
Regardless of this, it is a very important step for brands to create a change in their habits and thus make the problem visible.
And you, what do you think about this topic? How do you think climate change affects the corporate image of the most popular brands today?