How Can Your Company Be More Transparent About Sustainability?

Not many companies provide enough information about their products and services. People are often fed with ads that may or may not be true about the brand’s identity and practice.
But now, as more people become aware of corporate sustainability, many are taking the initiative to encourage companies to release relevant updates and clear information.
One good example of this is how thousands of Amazon employees pushed the company to release its 2018 carbon emissions report. The employees wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos and the board of directors, criticising the company’s lack of transparency.
This just shows that transparency on corporate sustainability and operations is a vital element that people explore before giving their loyalty to a brand. They want proof to back claims, especially when there are organisations that use unethical tactics to lure customers into believing that they’re doing their part in upholding sustainability.
Steps to Improve Transparency in Corporate Sustainability
To encourage enterprises to be the catalyst for greener and ethical operations, governments worldwide are incentivising corporate sustainability activities. But sustainability activities aren’t simple one-off campaigns. They must be a part of a string of actions aligned with sustainable business strategies designed to tackle societal and environmental challenges.
To improve transparency in corporate sustainability, you must incorporate it into the core principles that every part of the company should abide by. Here are the steps to take to make your sustainability efforts easier to convey to the audience:
1) Engage the whole organisation
Before you can promote transparency on corporate sustainability to the public, you must make sure that everyone in the organisation is on the same page. Employees and stakeholders need to be aware of the goals and strategies of the company when it comes to pushing sustainability.
According to a study made by the MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group, around 86% of respondents said that the leadership should take the lead in driving sustainability in business. However, only 48% said confirmed that the management is involved and even fewer agreed that there’s consistent board-level oversight on the company’s sustainability efforts.
There are said to be two critical gaps in communication that every company needs to address to effectively implement sustainability strategies:
Knowing that corporate sustainability is important is different from acting on that knowledge. From the same MIT/BCG study, around 90% of executives understand the importance of corporate sustainability. However, only 60% of the companies have devised a sustainability strategy. Moreover, only 25% have defined a clear business case on how to proceed with their sustainability efforts.

While more organisations are seeing the competitive advantage of being sustainable, they fail to see that they need to be compliant first. Compliance and competitiveness should be addressed separately for better company direction.

What many businesses do is mesh both compliance and competitiveness, making it hard for them to fight on both fronts. Instead of focusing on being competitive on specific aspects that align with their general goals, they divide their attention to try to be aggressive on areas that they need to comply with.

By understanding these gaps, you’ll be able to avoid the pitfalls that will prevent your company from seamlessly tackling corporate sustainability goals.

2) Have a clear strategy

Most company executives believe collaboration is essential to achieving Sustainable development goals, but less than half confirmed to have a defined strategy to do this.

There’s no fixed and guaranteed way to accurately quantify and rate corporate sustainability. Numerous, complex factors can’t be generalized and fit into a singular model for assessing performance.

Still, investors look at the ESG ratings to help them get an idea of an organisation’s progress on corporate sustainability.

The environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics is designed to cover the following areas and relate them to financial performance:

A high sustainability ranking is associated with good business decisions, commendable environmental practices, harmonious internal relationships, lower risk profile, increased market valuations, and better financial performance.

Focus on the ESG areas when strategizing how to improve corporate sustainability. Since ESG standards are recognized by organisations worldwide, it’s easier to use them when reporting progress on your sustainability efforts.

It’s easier for startups and new companies to incorporate transparency in corporate sustainability. On the other hand, established organisations need to exert more effort since existing processes may get affected.

But regardless of the size of the company, there’s no excuse for formulating a sound strategy on how the business can tackle sustainability challenges. Nearly 50% of companies have altered their existing models to accommodate sustainability opportunities.

When setting objectives, make sure they’re measurable so you’ll have something to show to consumers and stakeholders regarding your progress.

3) Walk what you talk
People want proof that you’re staying true to your sustainability goals. Consumers are wiser now, so they won’t believe mere promises or photos to prove that you’re doing your part as a corporation. What they want are numbers that will back your claims.
Fig. 1. How numbers are reported on the SmartHead Sustainability Profile
(Source: SmartHead)
What you can do is support your activities with reports and relevant figures. Here are some of the information that you can disclose:
Reports will also help you track the progress of your efforts. Use it to assess whether your strategies are getting you closer to your goals or depleting your resources for publicity alone.
4) Use the SmartHead platform
SmartHead is an online platform where you can put all your sustainability efforts for better tracking and transparency. It presents all your targets, activities, plans, and every information relevant to your company’s sustainability in an easy-to-understand manner.
Fig. 2. Overview of the SmartHead Sustainability Profile
(Source: SmartHead)

With SmartHead, it’s convenient to create a list of sustainable activities that can be tracked, ranked, and measured. You can attach relevant documents to serve as proof and make them accessible to the public for consumption.

Author: Blog content courtesy of our partner, SmartHead

By having an efficient and transparent communication system for showcasing sustainability efforts, stakeholders will feel assured and trust the brand more. They’ll see that your company is demonstrating progress, complying with all legal requirements, and working sincerely toward Sustainable development goals through the published data.

To improve transparency in corporate sustainability, you need a highly organised and robust system that makes it easier for you to coordinate updates. SmartHead is the platform of choice of leading brands in promoting their sustainability efforts. It makes promoting, organizing, tracking, and assessing sustainability efforts convenient, effective, and impactful.

If you want to find out more about transforming your ESG journey