The vast majority of corporate sustainability reports acknowledge the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in some way, and more than half are aligning their sustainability strategies with the SDGs, according to a new study from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Radley Yeldar. And more are tying their goals to actual business outcomes.

The Reporting Matters review of the sustainability reports of WBSD member companies shows that 89% of published reports include reference to the SDGs, while 53% map their sustainability strategies to relevant SDGs and provide some evidence of activities. Additionally, 83% of reports reviewed reference the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); 54% have already transitioned to the GRI Standards launched in October 2016.

Aligning Reporting with Financial Performance

With  more companies reporting on sustainability – and with 84% of reporting companies having improved their scores since 2014 – WBCSD found it useful this year to show how (or whether) companies are linking reporting and decision-making to performance and impact. This “deep dive” is meant to move beyond simply assessing disclosure to actually understanding how disclosure is linked to improved business decision-making and tangible positive impact.

Companies are increasingly making that link within their reports: 33% of reports reviewed combined financial and non-financial information, up from 22% in 2014, WBCSD found; 18% are self-declared integrated reports.

But while progress has been made, companies are still facing increased pressure from stakeholders to link their reporting to business and sustainability performance. Transparency, the study found, “isn’t enough,” says Ashleigh Gay, senior sustainability consultant at Radley Yeldar. “We must find a way to use this foundation to drive measurable change against issues like climate change, water and human rights.”

The Reporting Matters study looked at the sustainability reports of 158 leading companies from 31 countries.

This was featured in Environmental Leader. Read the full article here.

Back to top