The Newest Trends in Sustainability Reporting

 In News

Sustainability reporting has changed drastically in recent years, and is continuing to do so. But what are the trends, and how can your organization ensure that it’s keeping up with he latest and greatest?

Kate Heron, Marketing Manager at The Works Design Communications, wrote a guest post for CBSR about the most recent research on trends in sustainability reporting.  It’s clear from the trends that there are new aspects that must be covered and accounted for if companies want their reporting to stay up to date.

Which [sustainability reporting strategies] will actually drive positive change within organizations – and which are just passing fads?” – Wesley Gee, Director of Sustainability, The Works Design Communications

Read Kate’s post below!

The Newest Trends in Sustainability Reporting Have Arrived

As many of our colleagues working in corporate communications begin their reporting process, we are pleased to share our Annual Sustainability Reporting Trends: The Best for 2017. We have been analyzing corporate communications trends for over two decades, and this is the fifth year in a row that our analysts and designers have extensively tracked details of over 100 sustainability reporting programs from around the world. As always, we have audited companies across all industries –­ from oil and gas, to retail, to automotive – to identify dominant trends and emerging sector-specific best practices. And we’re ready to offer them up to you.

Our research evolves every year to meet the needs of reporting professionals and others working in corporate communications. It’s become a near-continuous process as we’ve grown our data set to accommodate the range of media and techniques used to communicate sustainability concepts and ideas. As sustainability and business strategies become more closely integrated, companies are making more substantial investments in reporting, and expanding the mandates of internal communications teams to include the delegation of social media and other types of audience engagement – all of which we now track on a quantitative basis. The goal is to inform and empower our colleagues by helping them understand what the “new normal” is – to develop a clear picture of what is expected in any given region or sector.

Our research shows that the days of developing a single report are over: 67% of companies make their primary report available in multiple formats (e.g., as a PDF as well as a microsite), while 42% of companies are producing some form of supplementary issue-specific report, like a water report or a regional/community-based document. And that’s just for starters: social integration is likely to become table stakes, with 59% of companies now incorporating advanced social sharing features into their reports.

On a more granular level, we see companies leveraging all types of new technology. Blurring the lines between reporting and activism, Patagonia uses drones to film breathtaking videos asking stakeholders to mobilize on behalf of Bears Ears National Monument – and these assets are advertising-level slick. Siemens is using AI on its home page to dynamically guide stakeholders to what it computes to be the most relevant content. Companies like Newmont are creating rich, interactive content for social media audiences: purpose-built microsites that take transparency to a whole new level and allow users to explore every aspect of their operations. AI and VR aren’t coming soon to corporate communications – they are already here.

“Reporting is gaining a greater day-to-day influence on how companies and the general public choose to spend their money. Companies will use all tools available (social media, video, whatever’s next) to connect to the maximum number of stakeholders,” says Wesley Gee, The Works’ Director of Sustainability. But there are still big questions to answer: which strategies truly add to the conversation? Which will actually drive positive change within organizations – and which are just passing fads? Our first (and best) step is to track implementation – only then can we begin to draw conclusions about impact.

How to use our research

We work with companies of all different sizes and in all sectors to improve their reporting.

Download Our Trends Summary

Visit our Sustainability Reporting Trends microsite to download a copy of our research summary. We’ve included metrics on topics like Integrated and Smart Reporting, as well as many best-practice examples.

Submit Your Brand for Next Year’s Research

We audit well over 100 sustainability programs in more than 10 sectors. If you’d like to submit your company to be part of the 2018 Sustainability Reporting Trends research, we’d love for you to get in touch with us. We’ll supply you with our findings after the audits are complete, which will include our thoughts on both disclosure and design.

Customized Trends Presentation

We offer customized Trends workshops, tailored to your sector (with ideas and best practices brought in from other industries). These sessions are led by our senior sustainability team and are the absolute best way to kick off your reporting process.

To submit your company for next year’s Trends research or to set up a Trends presentation, contact our Director of Sustainability, Wesley Gee, at

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