by Vincent Dorsey

April 11, 2022

2022 is shaping up to be a milestone year in the evolving landscape of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is considering mandatory climate change disclosures for publicly traded companies while international standard-setting entities are providing new guidance that furthers the standardization of ESG reporting.

With mandatory reporting and disclosure in key areas on the horizon, now is the time for your company to take a closer look at how it communicates its ESG/sustainability journey with stakeholders.

Regardless of how much information you’ve disclosed or how often you’ve communicated with stakeholders so far, here are three tips to help make your next communications the most authentic and engaging ever.

1. Take a Holistic Approach to Identifying Your Audiences

As with any communication, defining your target audience should be a key first step. In ESG/sustainability communications, alignment with your key stakeholders, as you define them and as they identify with you, is critical. Be sure to involve subject matter experts from across your organization to gain a comprehensive understanding of stakeholder needs and interests. When possible, contact external stakeholders to learn more about their priorities and expectations and secure their engagement.

If you have a holistic view of sustainability and ESG as well as compelling content to share, you should assume a wide variety of stakeholders – investors, customers, employees (current, past and prospective), partners, competitors and more – will be interested.

2. It’s All About the Journey

Every organization’s sustainability journey, and thus, its story, is unique. Companies can embrace and reflect that truth within their communications. Aligning your reporting to industry frameworks and standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) lends credence and uniformity to your efforts, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

There is no shame in not having all the answers in an early report. Transparency about your priorities, challenges and opportunities is a key first step. Talk about your journey in a thoughtful and measured way. Being transparent about your areas of challenge – and authentically discussing how you are addressing them – is important.

3. Develop Metrics, Document Progress

Both storytelling and metrics drive ESG/sustainability communications. When sharing data, be sure to give your audience a frame of reference – where you started, where you are today and what your goals and targets are for the near term and longer-term.

It’s never too early or too late to begin sharing (or enhancing) your organization’s sustainability/ESG story. The field is constantly evolving, with frameworks and standards regularly updated to reflect current realities. Your opportunity to re-evaluate and enhance your reporting may be closer than you think.

Inspired to enhance your efforts? Reach out to learn how we can work together on communicating your organization’s sustainability journey.

To learn more about our work in this area, see our sustainability communications capabilities.