Posted Wednesday, 1 December at 9:12 am in Productivity
So, your CSR policy has been established and integrated into your corporate strategy, and all the compliance and regulatory boxes have been ticked. The challenge now is to present your sustainability initiatives to the outside world and formally publish your achievements.
Like an annual report, a sustainability report can, at its most basic level, serve the purpose of a compliance document (think the Form 10-K in the United States). Mission accomplished? Well, sure, a compliance document will satisfy the analysts and regulators, but what does it say about your organisation? That you can comply, that’s all – which is important, of course, but hardly very inspiring stuff. Should you not grasp this opportunity to communicate something more? After all, the contents of your sustainability report more often than not convey good news to stakeholders. It is a vehicle through which you can speak about progress within your business, connect with an ever more savvy (and, for want of a better word, ‘green’) audience, and build positive perceptions of your brand.
To that end, it is vital to present your key information and data in a compelling way:
Paying attention to these kinds of details will build trust with your audience by conveying what is often highly technical (even scientific) information in a wholly transparent, digestible and meaningful way.
If the visual style of your sustainability report reflects your brand image, your strategic messages are communicated clearly, and the key data (too often dense and opaque) are presented in an engaging and accessible manner, it will only enhance the perception of your brand. As David Stuart of UK agency The Partners writes in his book A smile in the mind: ‘What you’ve got to worry about is whether someone actually reads this … Someone who is intrigued will stay with the item until curiosity is satisfied’. It might sound like Marketing 101 but it resonates with me, because poor design – and thus communication – in the area of corporate reporting is a frustratingly common occurrence.
The sustainability report is a relatively new beast, but just as the annual report has adapted from a pure compliance document into an often visually compelling window into the state of a company’s strategic and financial health, so too are sustainability reports evolving. If presented in an engaging and accessible fashion, the sustainability report can similarly contribute to positive perceptions of an organisation in the workplace, market and broader community.
As WellmarkPerspexa‘s Art Director, Chris Raybould has designed annual and sustainability reports for some of Australia’s leading corporate entities including Amcor, Santos, NAB, Coles Myer, Paperlinx, CentroProperty group, The Just Group and Melbourne Airport.