by Gregg LaBar

July 21, 2023

2023 has been a busy year so far for Dix & Eaton in producing sustainability/ESG reports and annual reports.

We have completed about 20 such reports so far this year, another half-dozen or so are currently in development and several others are scheduled to start around early fall.

At least five trends are quite striking and notable:

1. Sustainability/ESG reports tend to get longer every year as companies with maturing programs have more to talk about, develop additional metrics and goals, and respond to more and more frameworks. As a result, the executive summary and “by the numbers” fact sheet are becoming popular companion pieces. It is also time for some pruning and fine-tuning of content to streamline the reporting experience for organizations and their stakeholders. We want to help develop and execute those solutions.

2. Organizations are under legal and stakeholder engagement pressure to make their websites and reports compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA compliance of such materials considers a wide variety of factors – type size, colors, labeling of photos, use of infographics and graphic design execution overall. On top of all that, the best practices and tools are still evolving. Want to learn more? We are putting a lot of effort into helping our clients align with the state of the art.

3. Sustainability/ESG and annual report themes are taking on more meaning. As many organizations have adopted purpose-driven mission statements, the entire mission or purpose statement, or a key component of it, is a natural fit for a report theme. This is especially true in the first year of its rollout or when a company can demonstrate that it is truly delivering on that mission or purpose. Our theme development process is very creative and yields multiple good ideas for the current report and future ones.

4. More and more reports are moving to a horizontal format to match computer and tablet screens, which are how most people view reports. A horizontal widescreen format can be particularly compelling, but it does have readability and usability implications for stakeholders who still want to print a copy. Dix & Eaton is helping clients explore the options.

5. In a sign of the times, as the anti-ESG movement has picked up steam in the U.S. House of Representatives and some states, some companies are moving away from the term “ESG” to use “sustainability.” They are also focusing on core sustainability issues strategic to the business and taking a lighter approach to more controversial social and environmental issues. It’s a complicated situation, and we can all use a discussion partner to figure it out.

That’s a lot of change in just one year. Ongoing change is inevitable. Contact me if you’d like to get up to speed and maybe even get ahead of what’s next.