The aim of sustainable development is to meet the needs of the future generation without endangering the capacity to meet their needs. Sustainability, integrating environmental, social and economic dimensions into one, is a priority issue on organizations’ agenda. Every organization has an important role in achieving this target due to its key functionality in the society.
Since business models, decision making procedures, market dynamics and general consumer tendencies are being patterned towards sustainability, the activities of organizations in this field is getting accelerated. It is getting more and more accepted that organizations’ benefits should not conflict with the benefits of society and that organizations should also be aware of their social and environmental responsibility besides their economic profit focus. As a result of this, sustainability goes far beyond corporate social responsibility so that it is becoming an integral part of corporate strategy and operations.
Being transparent about corporate activities is a subject in which all stakeholders such as companies, employees, non-governmental organizations, investors are involved. As sustainability has become rising trend recently, organizations are under pressure due to the expectation of public and stakeholders regarding sustainability reporting and therefore, it has become unavoidable for organizations to prepare sustainability reports. All over the world, enterprises summarize their environmental, social, and economic performance under the framework of sustainability report and they share this information in definite periods with public and stakeholders.
Sustainability reporting is measurement, declaration and responsibility to internal and external stakeholders towards sustainable development targets. Sustainability reporting is a term with a wide coverage, which has the same meaning as other terms (trio responsibility report, corporate responsibility report, etc.) used for defining reporting regarding economic, social and environmental impacts.
A sustainability report should demonstrate the sustainability performance of an organization in a balanced and rational way that the negative impacts are also reported along with the positive impacts. Sustainability report covers the results obtained during a certain reporting period about commitments, strategy and management approach. Besides the mentioned purposes sustainability reports can also be used for the following purposes:
- Comparison and evaluation of sustainability performance against laws, rules, regulations, performance standards and voluntary initiatives
- Determination of an organization’s expectations regarding sustainable development and demonstration of how this organization is affected by these expectation
- Internal and external benchmark of the sustainability performance
Similar to financial reporting, in order to be able to provide reliability, consistency and compatibility, it is important to report according to reporting standards. This provide benefits and easiness to the reporting organizations and the readers in implementation and evaluation of the report. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a non-profit organization working in collaboration with United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and United Nations Global Compact (Global Compact), has developed sustainability reporting framework for enabling enterprises to report their environmental, social and economic activities and the results to these activities in order to create a sustainability reporting guide. GRI is the most widely accepted reporting scheme all around the world and the number of enterprises which has prepared sustainability report according to the GRI scheme is nearly 3000.
The application of the reporting scheme created by GRI can be problematic, since it requires expertise in the sustainability field. Altensis provides guidance service for sustainability reporting by turning this report scheme into an applicable format for Turkey with the help of Turkey specific subjects, existing implementations and analysis.
Benefits of Sustainability Reporting for Enterprises
- Publishing of company policy and mission in the context of sustainability by reporting
- Enhancement of company reputation
- Enhancement of reliability
- Improvement of customer and employee loyalty
- Positive public image / perception
- Interconnection of work performance with sustainability by establishment of monitoring and reporting system
- Differentiation from competitors
- Appropriate positioning in accordance with the future business models and conditions, adjustment of processes.
- Opportunity to benefit from social investment funds
- Determination of future steps for strengthening the market place with the help of increased awareness about the positive and negative points as a result of reporting, focusing to the areas which need to be improved