Online Tool Reveals Sustainability Best Practices

Source: Sustainability, 2 March 2007

For the first time, corporate responsibility practitioners will be able to access the very latest and best in sustainability reporting through a new, comprehensive online database.

The database, called "Learn from the Leaders" contains more than 350 specific examples of reporting best practice drawn from over 100 of the world’s leading reporters including BT, Nike, Ford, BP, Rio Tinto and Shell.

Strategy consultancy SustainAbility, CSR communications agency Flag, and data management system providers credit360 created a partnership to develop Learn from the Leaders, which contains benchmark research into sustainability reporting excellence.

"Companies are now recognising that sustainability and reporting are about far more than just mitigating risk and satisfying stakeholders’ information needs," said Sustainability co-founder and chief entrepreneur John Elkington. "Extending reporting to help deliver real solutions to sustainability challenges has tremendous market potential and should be at the heart of any decision-making processes about transparency and stakeholders’ expectations."

Since 1992, SustainAbility has been benchmarking the quality of international sustainability reporting in its Global Reporters biennial reports. These reports have been in high demand for companies interested in corporate reporting on economic, social and environmental issues.

This Global Reporters research will now be publicly available through the database, providing an overview of current trends and best practice, supported by hundreds of good practice examples from sustainability reports. Each example includes an analysis of what sets leading reporters ahead of the rest.

Each report in the database has been assessed across four principal categories: governance and strategy, management, presentation of performance and accessibility and assurance. The database offers users an assessment of how well a particular company explains and evaluates its sustainability activities, integrates sustainability into its business strategy and how successful its reporting approach is in meeting the needs of key audiences.

Mark Lee, CEO of SustainAbility, comments: "Learn from the Leaders has been developed to bring a decade of cutting edge analysis and insight on best practice sustainability reporting under one virtual roof. For any company wanting to benchmark themselves against the world’s leading practitioners, this database should be the first port of call."

Lee said the database will specifically help practitioners to compare their reporting with competitors and peers; understand common targets and emerging trends by sector; appreciate how others identify and manage material issues; decide how to adapt narrative and design; and assess approaches to assurance and verification.

Awareness of the social and environmental responsibilities of companies has grown rapidly over recent years and non-financial reporting is now recognised as an integral part of any business strategy. The quality of reporting has improved significantly since SustainAbility published the first Global Reporters survey ten years ago, as companies recognise that sustainability strategies, performance and reporting can and will deliver value and competitive benefits.

To date, 34 companies including Vodafone, BP, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, GlaxoSmithKline and Volkswagen, are set to have access to this research as part of their membership in SustainAbility’s Engaging Stakeholders program. Learn from the Leaders opens this resource up to all companies for the first time.

Krista Gullo, Sustainability Reporting Manager for the Ford Motor Company, said "The database will provide comprehensive, practical examples of how other companies are addressing reporting challenges, and help Ford stay at the leading edge."

The database Learn from the Leaders