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Why the green reporting burden is a golden opportunity

For many companies, the burden of sustainability reporting is growing. It’s a mounting compliance burden but one that can also be turned into a communications opportunity.

All too often, companies concentrate on reporting what they are required to disclose, but overlook the chance to tell investors and other stakeholders how their sustainability strategy is complementing their overall business strategy. This is what we think of as the missing narrative – the story of how actions to improve environmental and societal performance will also protect and increase profits.

Sustainability reports offer a golden opportunity to distil and articulate this narrative. You can then use the messages developed as a messaging and communications platform for the rest of the year, developing a rolling content campaign.

The CSRD will apply to over 60,000 businesses

The sustainability reporting bar is rising so why not turn it to your advantage?

Most notably, the EU’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) comes into force from the beginning of 2024, applying to more than 60,000 EU and non-EU companies. Meeting the CSRD’s reporting requirements will be burdensome. Companies must independently report and verify 82 annual sustainability disclosures, covering everything from greenhouse gas emissions to pollution entering waterways and gender pay differences.

Showing how great the CSRD’s influence will be, the European Commission estimates that 50,000 businesses will be within scope. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal calculates that a further 10,300 non-EU businesses will have to report.

Turning to the UK, the Sustainability Disclosure Standards (based on the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board) should be in place by July 2024.

Missing narratives

As companies begin to disclose sustainability data, many miss the opportunity to explain how they are quickly developing and implementing sustainability strategies. Yet some businesses are acting quicker than others in ways that may give them a competitive advantage.

Think of businesses as diverse as real estate companies, aerospace manufacturers and banks. All must shrink their environmental footprints, whether to comply with regulations or appease stakeholders. UK real estate investment companies, for instance, need to shrink buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions. Aircraft makers are racing to develop lower-carbon aircraft. Banks must manage the climate risks in their loan books.

The exercise of researching and writing a sustainability report (or the sustainability section of an annual report) is an opportunity to build a messaging platform articulating how your company is adapting – and why this matters for future profitability. It can then be the basis of a content strategy for the rest of the year, including:

  • Investor presentations
  • Social media posts
  • Thought leadership content
  • Infographics

A platform for communications and content

While some of the biggest global companies have mastered this sustainability communications opportunity, it’s surprising how many have not. What’s more, many mid-sized companies simply do not have the resources to craft a persuasive sustainability narrative.

It’s time to enliven your sustainability reporting, turning a technical compliance task into a platform for launching powerful sustainability communications and content throughout the year.

Financial Copywriting
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In the fast-evolving world of writing sustainability reports, it’s easy to get blinded by the science of reporting frameworks and data yet forget the fine art of narrative reports. Many companies are seeking to improve their sustainability reports, or even publish one for the first time because of the EU’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

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