Introduction to Reporting

Watch an introductory video from Fiona Pelham, in which she provides an overview of the topics that will be covered in this module. 

You can read a transcript of this video below.

There are a few things you can think about to make sure you are prepared before you start writing your report. Think about the content of the report, the framework of what your report will look like, and how you are going to use it.

A bit more on content: what are you going to put into your report? What do you think your stakeholders are expecting you to report on? What successes and challenges have you faced in the year that you could include? What content should you put in?

Format: What is your idea for what your report should look like? Is it going to be small? Is it going to be long? Are you going to be using it to communicate your message outwardly? In which case you may need more brand requirements. Is it going to be something that exists on the website or on printed material?

And now usage, we have touched upon this slightly but are you going to be using your report just internally, or are you going to be using it externally with your stakeholders and interested parties? It could be that you use your report as a brand building exercise; this could influence the content and the format of your report.

Once you have considered content, format, and usage, the next thing to think about is starting to write the report. How do you do that? There are recognised reporting frameworks, for example GRI EOSS. This reporting framework asks you to provide data, information, and also a background to your way of working. For example, if you work according to BS 8901 or ISO 20121 you can explain this within your report and then share certain data points which are GRI indicators.

It is a good idea to use an international reporting framework because then the people that read your reports will be able to understand it, and will be reading reports around the world that have similar content so will be able to compare the two reports.

If you don't have the time, budget, or management buy-in to start reporting at a detailed level like GRI reporting don't worry, you can start just by creating a case study.

What should be in your case study? Your case study could have background on your company, how big is it? Where is it located? Provide any information that will allow the report reader to understand the content. Your case study report could have information on your way of working, such as do you work according to any management systems such as ISO 20121?

Your case study could have some data points, it is important to remember not to just include data, for example weight and waste, but to also explain the story behind the weight of the waste.

Any report that you produce will be a good start to communicating your sustainability journey, but it is important to remember that the report should be balanced. What does balanced reporting mean? It means reporting your successes at the same time as your challenges. Making sure you share areas which you may not be completely proud of, but which you can communicate honestly and openly about. Share what your learnings have been, and share how you will approach things differently in the future.

Reporting is about transparent, honest, and open communication. Whether it is using a GRI framework or a basic case study, reporting is a great way for you to tell your story, and for others to be able to learn more about you, and your ways of working.

Katy Carlisle