Five Steps to Good Sustainability Reporting hero image

Five Steps to Good Sustainability Reporting

November 18, 2020
  • Nina Hatch portrait

    Nina Hatch

    Associate Director, Energy, Extractives, Transport, and Industrials, BSR

  • Adam Fishman portrait

    Adam Fishman

    Associate Director, Transformation, BSR

About This Report

Sustainability reporting and disclosure on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is increasing globally. In 2011, 20 percent of S&P 500 companies published sustainability reports; by 2019, that number reached 90 percent. This dramatic increase reflects how sustainability reporting is increasingly seen as a way for companies and their stakeholders to see a changing world more clearly and create long-term value. High-quality sustainability reports allow for:

  1. Business transformation and performance improvement at companies, by enabling investment in resilient business strategies that improve company performance.
  2. Better outcomes for sustainability, by focusing board and management attention on how the company can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, accomplish the Paris Agreement targets, and fulfill international human rights standards.
  3. Decision-making that accelerates progress toward an equitable and sustainable economy, by eliciting information from companies needed by investors, customers, civil society organizations, and governments to make informed decisions that support a rapid transition to sustainability.

The five steps detailed in this report are supported by 10 principles on content and quality that characterize best-in-class sustainability reporting. The principles combine and draw on features of several prominent reporting standards and frameworks, namely GRI (formerly Global Reporting Initiative), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

So how can you produce a good sustainability report? This new guide is based on BSR’s long experience working on sustainability reporting with companies, a literature review, and interviews with BSR member companies across sectors, including Adobe, AstraZeneca, Flex, Keysight Technologies, Inc., Millicom, PayPal, SABIC, Sempra Energy, and Verizon. It is designed primarily for first-time reporters, offering a clear and simple process framework to structure the reporting journey. If you are an experienced reporter, this guide may nonetheless provide some tips and best practices that can help you improve your process, product, and impact.

Discover the five steps to good sustainability reporting.

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Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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