December 9, 2021
For the second year in a row, I had the opportunity to be a panelist for the Comprend Annual Report on Annual Reports, an independent global survey on annual reporting practices (the 2021 report was the 25th edition!).
The evaluation included a review of 500 annual reports, including a number of integrated reports, and rated the top 330 reports. The evaluation criteria are based on a well-balanced perspective, blending financial and operational analysis, strategy and operations, visual and textual elements, shareholder and broader stakeholder issues, and information content and communication style – whether in print or online.
If you are looking for inspiration as you plan for your next annual report, we encourage you to check out this year’s findings. In particular, the “best practices” section provides excellent examples of CEO letters and disclosures for the year in review, business model, strategy, operations, risk management, sustainability targets and data, and more.
A few of our favorite reports are highlighted below:
SCA, Europe’s largest forest owner, secured the top position among the reports for a second straight year. We continue to be impressed with the company’s thoughtful, strategic approach and easily digestible format. The company presents a clear and compelling value proposition and for the first time included long-term targets for the company’s sustainability performance. The report features a mix of text lengths with supporting callout elements (such as the strategy boxes in each section), charts, photography, etc. which make the content more digestible and a much easier read than some of the text-heavy pieces.
This report clearly articulates the strategy while infusing elements of the company’s culture and customer-centric brand. IHG’s efforts to support colleagues and communities are identified as essential pillars of the strategy. We also appreciate how the online summary presents sections in digestible segments and provides easily accessible downloads on the business model, strategy, industry trends, etc. Overall, the report is well written, reader-friendly and graphically appealing with excellent navigational cues of where to find information.
The report for this bearing and seal manufacturing company provides a clear introduction to the business and strategy as well as SKF’s mission and vision. It also helps the reader understand how sustainability is embedded within the business strategy. The “Why” and “How” explanations that accompany the financial targets are also highlights for us – straightforward, simple and helpful to the reader.
The report is on brand and is written in an authentic, genuine tone. We really liked the Q&A format of the CEO message as an effective way to introduce a new CEO and share his style and perspective. We also found the table comparisons of the company’s 2020 sustainability commitments versus actual results to be useful and user-friendly. In particular, the table provides excellent transparency by allowing the company to celebrate its achievements while acknowledging where the company feels it is coming up short. We also appreciate the substantial discussion of the company’s five business priorities, with multiple pages dedicated to each and featuring easily digestible content, photos and additional visual elements that support the story.