The sustainability report may go out of style at some point. But sustainability reporting is probably here to stay.
Each year, thousands of companies issue sustainability reports. They can be comprehensive, data-driven labors of love designed to highlight successes, measure progress, engage stakeholders, and respond to skeptics. Unfortunately, many are too long, too complicated, not timely, overwhelming, underwhelming, or whatever. They can be expensive – financially and environmentally – to design, print and ship. All that effort and cost, and many go unused and underappreciated.
The search for the right tool to report on sustainability is ongoing – with the annual report, Web portals, and factsheets and “dashboards” all growing as viable options. One interesting iteration is the new McDonald’s 2011 Global Sustainability Scorecard, a 16-page pamphlet covering Nutrition & Well-Being, Sustainable Supply Chain, Environmental Responsibility, Employee Experience, and Community. Yes, all that in 16 pages, with a QR code for smart phones to link to the sustainability section of AboutMcDonalds.com.
McDonald’s has scrapped the full-fledged printed report in favor of this scorecard format. They say it’s a matter of “less is more,” and I don’t see anything wrong with that. In more ways than one, it sounds like a sustainable solution to me.