Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 4: Five Company Experts You Need for a Good Sustainability Report

Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 4: Five Company Experts You Need for a Good Sustainability Report

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00pm


Producing a corporate sustainability report (CSR) is a team sport. The stronger the team is, the stronger the report will be. Each player needs to bring specific expertise that is complementary to the team as a whole. So, it is important to recruit and rally the key experts that can deliver what you need to make the company’s report a success. Choose carefully and look for people who already demonstrate some passion about sustainability.

In most organizations, there are one or two departments that lead the sustainability report. Thosefunctions will likely be a reflection of the organization’s biggest sustainability risks and opportunities. Regardless of which department is taking the lead, it is helpful to develop a strategy to recruit at least one expert team member from the following functions:


Since the CSR is a way to communicate with stakeholders, marketing/communications departments often manage it. Knowledgeable sustainability communications professionals can make strategic recommendations about messaging, format and audience prioritization that can greatly impact the success of a report. Whether the writing and design is handled internally or externally, the communications department will be able to ensure overall brand and message consistency.

The communications team also can merchandise report content across communications platforms such asemployee newsletters, press releases and social media to ensure the messages reach various stakeholder audiences. As the managers for these various channels, the communications department should also collect feedback from those stakeholders to provide a better external voice to the report.

Community Impact

Demonstrating the ways that your organization gives back to communities is one of the easiest, most positive elements of the CSR. So, there should be at least one member of the reporting team from the department responsible for non-profit grants, employee volunteer programs and/or in-kind giving. This kind of sustainability content tends to be the shiny-happy data and stories that represent very little organizational risk. As a result, this expert is generally easier to recruit. The challenge in community impact is going beyond photos of giant check handovers or smilingvolunteers. To build a world-class report, the team member representing community impact needs to help compile comprehensive data that demonstratesmeaningful, lasting impact on communities.

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Rebecca Treacy-Lenda, a Strategist at Emotive Brand, is an award winning communications professional with more than a decade of experience in corporate communications and public relations. Rebecca specializes in sustainability strategy and communications having managed the industry-leading UPS sustainability report for several years.

Rebecca is part of the team at Emotive Brand, an award-winning brand and design consultancy that transforms businesses by making brands matter more to people.

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