Here’s an article written by one of the most energetic and fascinating people in sustainability communication, Lynnette McIntire at UPS (check out some of her work on the UPS blog). The article, titled Why I Love the Sustainability Report Assurance Process and published on Triple Pundit website back in August, shares McIntire’s appreciation for the utility of sustainability reporting. Public relations and communication groups are beginning to view the sustainability report as more than just an opportunity to talk about the good actions of a company. It is a management document that allows for greater accountability within the organization by identifying opportunities and holding the company accountable for responding to them. The document also can become a tool for media relations and activist communication by quantifying an organization’s performance improvements year over year.
Producing a sustainability report requires a high level of investment from a company, and as McIntire says in the article, “gone are the days when carpooling and lighting upgrade stories and smiling volunteer photos made the grade. Now, credible companies talk about such contentious topics as human rights, climate change, racial diversity, sexual orientation and product responsibility.” Companies have the opportunity to take a closer look at their impact on society through the arduous process of compiling a sustainability report.
Check out Lynnette’s work on the 2011 Sustainability Report for UPS. It is a model of goal setting and reporting.
For those of you interested in how sustainability reporting can be leverage in social media, here is the Social Media Sustainability Index published earlier this year. It’s full of interesting examples of sustainability communication on the web, and I’ve found the material in the report to be somewhat useful for strategy development.