Reporting sustainability within a company, as well as external efforts, is becoming more and more important to both investors and consumers when considering developing a relationship with your company.
The sustainability efforts of each business have become major factors in whether a consumer interacts with a brand and can make or break a consumer relationship. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) design presents your business’s sustainability measures in an easy-to-read format, and is an ever-growing inclusion in a successful company’s corporate collateral.
Your CSR needs to tell a complete, transparent story of your company’s policies and practices that address the perspectives of your stakeholders. Although not considered a financial document, several companies are opting for integrated reporting, combining financial (typically found in annual reports) and non-financial (addressed in CSR reports) performance in one document.
At a minimum, a corporate sustainability report should provide information that informs your investors about:
Product use and innovation
Supply chain and procurement practices
Within each of these sections, focus on what targets have been set for that specific area, and how your business is working to meet those goals.
Although not necessary, some of the most complete corporate social responsibility/sustainability reports include Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards.
Making sure your information is represented in a clear, concise manner that is visually-engaging goes hand-in-hand with providing your internal and external audiences with a comprehensive CSR report. Some of the most successful sustainability reports represent information with clever visuals and graphics, including:
Highlight key statistics with eye-catching infographics
Photos that convey success
Interesting sidebars that express the personality of the company and its employees
Coca-Cola's 2014 report is a great example of an engaging CSR, from both a content and design aspect. In fact, it won PR Daily's Best Report award. Not to mention, it includes full GRI reporting.
Your CSR report, whether presented in a printed format or online, or whether or not it includes GRI standards, should convey the facts and figures of your company’s sustainability goals and progress. It should also honestly and transparently outline your company’s most important issues—both the bad and the good—in a clear, well-organized, dynamically designed communication vehicle. The easier it is to interpret the information, the more trust is built in your audience’s eye.