Show me the Numbers! Sustainability Reports Have to Be Credible.

by Lynnette McIntire
Jul 26, 2010 5:15 PM ET

UPSide: the UPS blog

Today we launched our seventh sustainability report. It’s chock full of information about our environmental programs, philanthropy, products and services, and economic performance. Much of the information that appears here can’t be found anywhere else.

My view is that credible annual sustainability reports are essential for companies that want to be seen as leaders in corporate responsibility. That thought is echoed in the video by Bob Stoffel, the senior vice president who oversees sustainability at UPS.

Reflective of our engineering culture, we report not only anecdotal information but also quantifiable achievements, operational and management data, goals and key performance indicators.

We do all this work to meet the growing expectations of stakeholders who expect companies to measure and report their impact. Hundreds of groups, researchers, investors and NGOs contact us annually and each of them is looking for data relevant to his or her interests. We write this report based on that stakeholder feedback.

But the informational needs of those stakeholders vary significantly. For some stakeholders, the shorter the better. They want to find specific details quickly. For others, they want technical data that helps them analyze our actions through their prism. This report was designed to be usable for both types of stakeholders.

The first 24 pages present a quick summary of our sustainability story. The back section, distinctive with its shaded background, is designed to satisfy readers who need in depth information around technical issues, data and the “how” of our programs. If you like charts and graphs, footnotes and statistics, this is the section for you!

Both sections reflect the reporting standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which is the recommended international format for sustainability reports.

And for the first time, the contents were reviewed by Deloitte & Touche LLP and GRI, which we believe gives us important credentials and accountability for the content in this report.

Our sustainability report represents the collective actions of thousands of UPSers who consistently operate our business in a transparent and responsible manner. While we believe in the importance of this report, it’s more important that our actions speak at least as loud as our words.

We welcome feedback on the report and aim to make it better every year.