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A Guide to Sustainability Reporting – Getting Started

Copylab 27 February 2024

by Jen Causton and Sarah Libralato

laundry list | noun

  • A long or exhaustive list of people or things

The list of people and things required to produce a sustainability or ESG report is certainly this. Creating such a list can be a real headache – it’s not easy to pull together various pieces of information around your ESG philosophies, processes and governance. Then there’s the data to consider – in additional to multiple sources of internal data, are you also working with external providers? We’ve drawn on our many years of experience of working on ESG reports to help simplify what can be an overwhelming process.

An exceptional report is a great differentiator that will help your organization meet regulatory requirements and disclose your sustainability efforts in a transparent way. But with careful consideration of the content you include and how you present it, the end product can also be a really powerful marketing tool.

Furthermore, a concise yet comprehensive account of your company’s ESG journey can be an invaluable document to use internally – a one-stop shop for RFP queries or identifying gaps or inconsistencies in policies or procedures, for example.

We’ve put together a few things we think you need to know.

Getting started

  • Define your objectives. What is the function of the report? Is it to satisfy a mandatory requirement or best practice?
  • Is this a new report for your company? If so, be prepared that planning and agreeing its structure may take longer than anticipated. Starting early is key.
  • Do you have any existing reports that will help with certain areas – for example, your stewardship code response?
  • Has your company set any ESG and sustainability goals and values? Focusing on the most material risks and opportunities will add clarity to your report.

Do you have a sustainability story? Identify your key ESG objectives and weave this narrative throughout the report to engage and inspire the reader.

  • Engage with key stakeholders such as your data management team, HR, risk management staff, and representatives from various investment teams. Make sure your stakeholders understand why the report is required and how it will help the business, as they may be required to sign off certain elements!
  • Select your steering committee. Think about representation from the centralized ESG team, risk, compliance, marketing and investment – but the makeup may depend on the size of your company and existing ESG reports (CIO, Fund Managers, Head of Sustainability and other members from a centralised ESG team, Compliance, Risk, Head of Marketing).

To assist with a smooth sign-off process, start engaging with relevant internal teams as soon as possible – especially if this is a new report for your company.

Ready for more? Tune in next week to find out how to create your ESG report.