It has been over 20 years since the first environmental reports addressed the non-financial impacts of companies on society. Sustainability reporting has grown and greatly evolved since then yet it is not always easy for companies to gain any in-depth insight on what the readers of their reports are doing with the information that they invest so much time, effort and money in producing.
A new survey conducted by SustainAbility, Futerra and KPMG of both readers and writers of sustainability reports has found that many see reporting as a valuable tool for commercial decision-making. More than half of readers surveyed use them as a basis for investment decisions and to make choices about a companys products and services. It seems that reporting can be also be a valuable tool for changing behavior, with around 40% of readers claiming that reports have positively impacted their behavior as consumers.
The Readers and Reporters Survey 2010 was commissioned by the Global Reporting Initiative and surveyed over 5,000 readers and writers of sustainability reports globally between late 2009 and early 2010. The study explores the purpose of reporting, the reasons for consulting reports, the factors that build trust in an organizations sustainability commitments, as well as how readers use the information they get from sustainability reports and how that information has affected attitudes and actions.