1. New reporting frameworks are continuing to launch in 2021 and will continue to grow in numbers for the coming years.
SDGs, GRI, IIRC…? The “alphabet-soup” of sustainability frameworks is growing rapidly. These frameworks are designed to guide sustainability reporting by providing a unified method of reporting. Choosing the best framework can be a daunting task for expanding businesses.
The most prominent frameworks are updating and expanding their reporting requirements. This affects the scope of business reporting and tracking requirements. Companies are bringing in full-time and contract staff to help keep up with these dynamic reporting needs. They are choosing sustainability experts who will guide their processes, starting with framework selection.
2. Focusing on strategic sustainability with a purpose this year is the secret to eliminating irrelevant sustainability reporting topics.
Selecting a sustainability framework will guide companies on what to report. It’s equally important to be transparent to your clients and stakeholders when reporting. Investors see expanded reporting as a way for companies to demonstrate the new levels of value they create in social, environmental, and human improvements.
Building a sustainability plan with a clear purpose also brings reporting into a global context. This assists staff on reporting what matters most to a company’s growth and eliminates the list of irrelevant reporting topics. Frameworks, such as GRI, are updating their requirements with this purpose-driven reporting as the new standard to help eliminate unnecessary reporting.
3. The people pillar gains new focus in 2021 as leaders recognize the importance of building a stable plan based on all three sustainability pillars – people, profit, and planet – or "the triple bottom line."
Leaders in organizations sometimes overlook the importance of making improvements for people when developing sustainability goals. In 2021, organizations are refocusing on their people – as people are the ones who carry out the sustainability initiatives for a company.
Achieving balance in these pillars requires an equal commitment to improving the welfare of employees and the surrounding community in addition to meeting economic and environmental goals. It’s important to develop a strong team to focus on the people pillar. Without this focus, the three pillars are unstable, making it difficult to achieve sustainability goals.
4. Data assurance & reliability remains crucial for 2021 sustainability reporting as investors see how accuracy illustrates measurable progress towards a company’s sustainability goals.
Investors, clients, and other stakeholders expect sustainability data to be accurate, reliable, and high-quality for it to be comparable year after year. Investors see this accuracy as an illustration of measurable growth towards sustainability goals.
As the focus on collecting sustainability data increases, the expectations of external assurance are increasing as well. This assurance is a form of audit. Many companies are turning to external experts or consultants to avoid the consequences of inaccuracies in reporting. Because sustainability data validation is a developing field, there are varieties of options available. This allows companies to select assurance plans that fit best with its sustainability goals & purposes.
Sustainability reporting is a rapidly changing area. InQuest is ready to discuss the human-capital side of reporting and sustainability challenges. Comment below or contact Andrew Funk at (713) 861-5400 x1
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