Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Research reveals value of sustainability reporting in attracting talent

Readers use reports to inform career decisions

Prospective employees are turning to sustainability reports to decide whether or not to work for a company, according to a survey published today.

The readers and reporters survey 2010, which includes the views of 5,000 readers and writers of sustainability reports, was commissioned by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and conducted by Futerra Sustainability Communications, SustainAbility Ltd. andKPMG. It was designed to find out why both people who use and people who produce sustainability reports value the reporting process.

The survey shows that prospective employees actively seek information on an organisation by looking at its sustainability report; almost 40 percent of readers surveyed said they use sustainability reports to inform decisions about seeking employment with an organisation. Analysts of the survey believe that this highlights the pivotal role of sustainability reporting in business.

Solitaire Townsend, Co-Founder of Futerra Sustainability Communications, one of the authors of the report, comments:

Sustainability reporting is busting out of its niche. New technologies mean report data pops up from smart-phone scans. New readers in emerging markets are talking about what they read, and choosing employers, investments and purchases based on ESG data. Calls for integrated and compulsory reporting are being seriously debated by governments and industry bodies. These are exciting and changing times for sustainability transparency.”

“So it's never been more important to understand the mindsets of those who read, and those who write, reports. Reporting change delivers those insights, some of which even the authors found surprising

Jean-Philippe Renaut of SustainAbility comments:

“The demonstrates how reporting is a real win-win for businesses and individuals. It’s clearly a powerful internal engagement tool, but it is also a powerful reputational tool and empowers readers to make decisions based on the information sustainability reports contain.”

Wim Bartels, Global Head of Sustainability Assurance, KPMG, comments:

“These findings place sustainability reporting right at the heart of business and reinforce its relevance and pivotal role. Reporting impacts whether business can attract the best talent, which without any doubt is a critical success factor for future success in the market.”

According to the survey, internal change is the main driver for sustainability reporting. Sixty-five percent of companies that responded said the top reason for reporting on their sustainability performance was to improve internal processes. Ninety-seven percent of people who read reports say reporting itself indicates that a company is improving its sustainability performance.

Survey analysts believe this shows that sustainability reporting is a valuable tool for improving an organisation’s environmental, social and governance performance, not just a communications exercise.

Other key findings of the study include:

Reporting can be a valuable behaviour change tool. Around 40% of readers reported that sustainability reports has positive impacted upon their behaviour as a consumer

Reporting builds trust. Sixty percent of readers say reading a sustainability report positively influences their commitment and connection to an organisation.

Almost half of the readers (45%) use the information from sustainability reporting to share their views or opinion about an organisation with others

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting guidelines, for organizations of any size, sector and location. GRI collects data on sustainability reports and organizes the Readers’ Choice Awards every two years to highlight good reporting. As part of the 2010 Awards, GRI commissioned Futerra to conduct a survey to find out why both people who use and people who produce sustainability reports value the reporting process.