A corporate social responsibility (CSR) report can seem daunting. Whether for beginners or advanced reporters, the responsibility to encapsulate key impacts for an entire organization is typically left in the hands of small, 1-2 person, teams.
Here are four ways to simplify the reporting process while maintaining a credible report:
Focus on material issues
Materiality is a foundational element to CSR reporting; it is so basic, yet so important. Just as businesses approach strategy by focusing on core competencies that are most impactful to their bottom line, businesses should focus on CSR issues that are most impactful to their stakeholders. Nothing can be important if everything is important. Focus on material issues, develop a strategy to address those issues, then report on that progress.
Leverage existing practices
At ISOS Group, when guiding clients through the reporting process, a key step is understanding what management policies and metrics are currently in place. Once determined, map those against your material issues to leverage what your organization is already doing. An important benefit of a CSR report, to both internal and external audiences, is creating a central repository to share company efforts that address material issues.
Create a repeatable process
Quantity does not equal quality. Don’t dread filling pages for page count’s sake; chances are, your stakeholders won’t be interested in the fluff. Get excited to update your stakeholders on the progress the company has made. Utilize technology to collect, measure and report high quality data. We recommend that our clients switch from a static pdf to an interactive online report to more easily share key initiatives and provide updated metrics on material issues. Don’t paraphrase last year’s report just because it’s easy.
Understand organizational limits
Some companies have integrated CSR into their DNA while others are still defining what it means to them. Each company has a unique journey and timeline. Be realistic in what can be accomplished with the resources you’re given. Find your internal champions (because they are there) and go after small wins. Fill gaps in human or intellectual capital with external partners, whether industry peers or paid specialists.
At ISOS Group, we empower professionals through certified training on leading standards and coaching services. We leverage our network to connect and encourage information sharing amongst industry peers as companies address global goals and collective issues to expand your support circle outside of your organization.
When gearing up for the next reporting cycle, remember a CSR report is a guidance document on how a company manages non-financial KPIs. Focus on those that are important to stakeholders and leverage digital platforms to streamline the reporting process. Aim for incremental improvements by building on existing practices. And remember, Patagonia wasn’t built in a day.