A sustainability report is not a goal, it paves the way to the goal of sustainability

Jul 15, 2022

There is a misconception that companies with a sustainability report are sustainable. The associated belief is "we are sustainable as a company if we publish a sustainability report". Why this belief is wrong, where it comes from, and why it is still important to have a sustainability report. Here's some guidance:

1️⃣ Report = Sustainable: a misinterpretation arises

Companies are often confronted with sustainability for the first time due to reporting requirements such as CSR-RUG or CSRD. The corresponding reporting requirements alone are then mistakenly equated with sustainability.

2️⃣ Transparency is not an end in itself, but a means to an end

A report serves to provide transparency and enables stakeholders to form their own opinion of the company's sustainability performance. It is a means to an end.

3️⃣ Reporting Climate Killers Remain Climate Killers

Fossil fuel companies have comprehensive sustainability reports. Transparency may be there, but positive climate performance is not.

4️⃣ "The thicker the report, the more the sh..."

The thickness and volume of a report say little about its content and quality. On the contrary. Often, the thicker the report, the more colorful with beautiful photos, large font size and sprawling storytelling, the more likely the company is not sustainable.

5️⃣ Report labels show compliance but not sustainability

Companies like to use labels from reporting standards as evidence of their performance. But many of these labels merely demonstrate that a complete report is available. Of course, this may also describe non-sustainable practices.

6️⃣ Sustainable ⇒ Report ⇏ Sustainable

Sustainability pioneers almost always also have a report. But the reverse logic does not apply: a reporting company is not automatically a sustainability pioneer.

👉 In short: A sustainability report is - especially for medium-sized companies - an important prerequisite for becoming more sustainable. After all, the necessary data is the basis for steering through the transformation - in the spirit of "what gets measured gets done".Whether the company then reports positive, average or even negative performance is then another question. A report is not the goal, but it paves the way to the goal.

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