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Online Sustainability Reporting and Engagement — A Trend That’s Here to Stay

Posted @ 9:53 am by Frank Anan | Category: Green/Clean Technology, SolutionSet | 0 Comments

This is the time of year when many organizations issue their CSR reports. One of the most significant trends we see is the shift to online-only sustainability reporting. Some leaders, like HP and BP, have gone so far as to place a “sustainability” navigation tab on their home page instead of burying it under the “about us” tab. In addition, many companies are beginning to integrate on-line stakeholder engagement into their reporting sites although many are hampered by issues of compliance and corporate culture.

Why are organizations starting to move from static to dynamic, easy to navigate reporting? There are several reasons:

1) It saves time and resources — companies can allocate internal resources to update content and information more efficiently throughout the year versus the typical annual process which consists of a mad dash to get data, information and a report ready. By the time the report is generated, it often already is out of date.

2) It saves money — organizations can update the report regularly with new messaging and data using a template based on their brand, instead of paying for a whole new look every year as they do with an annual report

3) It makes life easier — when a stakeholder calls requesting information, it’s much easier for investor relations to send them an email with the link to the site containing the exact information they need. This makes for happy stakeholders.

Online stakeholder engagement is also a new trend. We are now seeing an integration of this type of stakeholder engagement with the CSR report. Online engagement becomes another channel for feedback and helps to build an on-line stakeholder community. It doesn’t mean that in-person stakeholder engagement goes away. If developed well, it provides a quick and easy source of feedback regarding the report and information provided. It can also be a place for sharing best practices and open dialogue.

What do both of these on-line channels mean to stakeholders?

1) Quick and easy access to information – any stakeholder, whether investor, customer, or employee, can find what they are looking for easily. If the online report is developed well, the stakeholder should be able to find the desired information in 2-3 clicks, and maybe they won’t need to call investor relations!

2) It shows a level of commitment on the part of the company. Having sustainability on the home page communicates to stakeholders that sustainability is an integral part of the organization’s strategy.

3) It provides a broader group of stakeholders an opportunity to voice their opinions outside of those selected by the firm for in-person meetings and focus groups.

Taking the CSR report online and creating online stakeholder engagement can position organizations as leaders in sustainability. SolutionSet provides the consulting, technology and design services that can build these channels for your organization.

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