I thought I’d piggy-back Steve’s post on how annual reports are an indispensible communications tool, and should be approached and developed with this lesson in mind.
The same applies for social or sustainability reporting. The GRI has gone as far as saying today that “sustainability reporting is becoming a more utilised tool in maintaining and building brand – often a company’s most valuable asset.” This is on the back of reviewing the world’s top brands and how 43 of the top 100 global brands have issued such a report.
From a communications viewpoint, compiling a sustainability report itself not only offers an opportunity to engage a group of stakeholders during the process but it’s also an opportunity to reach out to a wide range of stakeholders. But if — and it’s a big if — it’s communicated effectively.
Simple things like publishing a smaller/summarised version for ‘less technical’ audiences, and producing a user-friendly and accessible report that it is easy to find on the website are simple steps that any company thinking about producing one must consider. There’s a huge time investment necessary to put together a social report, and businesses should try and get as much value out of them as possible.
I searched one Korean company who produces a GRI accredited report but it can only be accessed through the IR site. This is good for investors, but the company is missing out on a great opportunity to showcase their social responsibility (and build their brand) with a range of stakeholders who would rarely visit the IR site.
Going through the process of developing a social report is something Korean companies are beginning to (and should) turn their attention to. Korean companies have a bit of catching up to do, however. The last time I trawled through the database, of the 2,173 sustainability and environmental reports meeting the GRI standards, only 37 were from Korean companies (two of these were overseas companies based in Korea also). That compared with, for example, 269 from Japan, 230 from the U.S., 138 from Australia, 78 from Germany and 74 from Finland.