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Sustainability reporting and why it matters

What are the benefits of sustainability reporting? Learn how regular and comprhensive sustainability reports help your business

Writing sustainability reports is an important practice for your business. Regular assessments help make sure you’re on track to meet your goals, and these reports are evidence of your commitment. Learn what a sustainability report is and how they are written.

Table of contents

1. What is sustainability reporting?

2. What are the 3 main principles of sustainability?

3. Why is sustainability reporting important?

What is sustainability reporting?

It’s no secret that sustainability in business has become a popular topic in recent years, and for good reason. Consumers and employees alike say they would be more willing to work for or shop at a business if that business can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and ethical conduct.

As a business owner, one of the best ways for you to do this is through sustainability reporting. Not only do such reports give you data for stakeholders and customers, but regularly assessing your business helps you figure out which measures are working and which could be improved.

Simply put, the purpose of sustainability reporting is to use a variety of factors to determine whether your business is on track to meet its goals, and to improve where necessary. The most common set of goals businesses set are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. These are accomplished through policies like switching to clean energy in the office, achieving gender equality and eliminating pay gaps in the office, and using sustainable technology to reduce costs.

A sign that says "planet Earth first"

What are the 3 main principles of sustainability?

The 3 main principles of sustainability are what ESG goals are derived from Sustainability is a combination of three areas:

  1. Environmental sustainability, which involves reducing a business’s ecological impact.
  2. Social sustainability, which is the idea that your business should have a positive impact on the community and on its staff.
  3. Economic sustainability, or a business’s ability to support their level of production.

  4. The key to impactful sustainability reporting is to have clearly articulated positions on ESG topics, and to be as specific as possible in your goal-setting. That way, you will be able to quickly and objectively see where you’re meeting and where you are less equipped to meet your goals.

    For example, instead of saying you want to reduce office maintenance costs, try saying “we will reduce energy consumption and waste production in our office by 25% over the next 6 months”.

    Why is sustainability reporting important?

    Improving the way you document and measure your business’ journey towards sustainability is the first step towards transforming your business. You’ll be transitioning from vague aspirations of environmentalism to a concrete roadmap. And this specificity is just one benefit of sustainability reporting.

    A cornerstone of reducing your business’s carbon footprint is cutting energy consumption and waste production. Common ways of doing so include using less water, replacing the lightbulbs throughout a building, and going paperless where possible. Measuring all these efforts regularly helps identify which policies are most effective.

    Regular and comprehensive sustainability reporting also helps you avoid greenwashing. In a nutshell, greenwashing is when companies claim to be environmentally conscious in a bid for a larger audience, but their processes do not reflect those claims. If you’re consistently transparent with customers, you won’t be accused of it.

    A landscape full of green energy production

    Showing that your actions match your words is vital; one study found that although 81% of consumers say they prefer to support sustainable businesses, 45% report being unaware of said businesses’ actual policies. When you raise awareness of your commitment to sustainability, you stand out.

    Value-driven decision making is on the rise among employees as well. And this is especially true for younger workers.40% of millennials report that sustainable practices were the deciding factor in their decision to accept a job. Putting in the effort to create a sustainable workplace also improves company culture and satisfaction of your existing employees.

    Consumers aren’t the only ones paying attention to how green your business is. Sustainability is also a growing concern among investors. Since consumers have started placing more weight on ESG factors when deciding which businesses to support, financial performance and sustainability are now linked.

    ESG and sustainability principles play a much larger role in investor decisions than they used to. In 2020, businesses which demonstrated commitments to sustainability received around $17.1 trillion total. And 67% of ESG investors are more motivated by a business’s values than by returns on their investment.

    Finally, maintaining sustainability reports helps you remain compliant with any environmental regulations your business might face. Failing to adhere to standards set by governing bodies can result in heavy fines. Regular assessments are vital to ensure standards are met.

    The days of sitting at your desk for hours scribbling down notes and cross-referencing data from 15 different Excel sheets are over. You can write a sustainability report much faster with Lumiform. Find what you need in our template library, or tailor the report to your business. Create templates that reflect your company’s specific goals using our form builder.

    As a bonus, everything you do with Lumiform is completely paperless and entirely digital, so you’ll be working towards sustainability when you make the switch.

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