The temptation for organisations to meet the growing demand for information on the environmental, social and economic impact of their activities by putting reports exclusively onto their websites, can create problems for them and the stakeholders who want that information, a new guide by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Next Step Consulting Ltd, communications, policy and strategy specialists, has revealed.
The publication, Environmental, Social and Sustainability Reporting on the World Wide Web: A Guide to Best Practice looks at how the web should be used for sustainability reporting, gives best practice examples and reveals the ‘seven deadly sins’ of web-based reporting – and how to avoid them.
Among the most common mistakes made by web reporters are: putting unwieldy files on the system which take more than an hour to download; hiding information away on the website without links from the homepage; failure to promote the site; and discouraging feedback and discussion. And, with only two per cent of the world’s population having access to the internet, assuming that an electronic report will meet your entire audience is a mistake.
Rachel Jackson, ACCA’s Environmental and Social Manager, said: " An increasing number of organisations are reporting their environmental and social impact information on the World Wide Web. To reflect this development ACCA, which manages the national awards for sustainability reporting, has published criteria to judge web-based entrants. These include the need for web reports to be clear, accessible and tailored to meet the needs of different stakeholder groups. As well as publishing the new criteria, the guide is designed to show best practice and help organisations avoid the pitfalls of web-based reporting."
Paul Scott, Director of Next Step Consulting, said: " Our research shows that while companies are turning to the Web to report on their environmental, social and sustainability performance, report users are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of clear and accessible information. By producing this guide and demonstrating best practice we aim to help both existing reporters and those entering the field to develop readable, effective and successful web-based reports. UK companies are leading the world in both the quantity and quality of these reports – the new Guide will help maintain this momentum."
This publication can be downloaded from the social and environmental section of the ACCA website or at the Corporate Register website.