Shining beyond the bottom line: the top ten must-haves for your company's non-financial report

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Shining beyond the bottom line: the top ten must-haves for your company's non-financial report

Gone are the days when a company's success was solely measured by quarterly profits. Today's stakeholders require a more holistic view, demanding transparency not just on the financial front, but also on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects of your business. This is where your non-financial report comes in, providing a powerful tool to showcase your impact beyond the balance sheet. But what should you include to truly differentiate yourself and win over stakeholders? Here are the top ten must-haves for your company's annual non-financial report.

1. Environmental consciousness

a) Carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions

  • Quantify your company's carbon footprint and track progress towards emissions reduction goals
  • Be transparent about energy consumption and share renewable energy initiatives

b) Resource management

  • Show your commitment to conserving resources like water and materials
  • Highlight recycling and waste reduction programmes

c) Environmental impact

  • Discuss how your operations impact the environment
  •  Describe efforts to mitigate negative impacts and partnerships with environmental organisations

d) Goals

  • Adopt goals from the United Nations or other agencies
  •  Give an update on how you are progressing and what your next steps are

2. Social responsibility

a) Diversity and inclusion

  • Showcase your commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce
  • Include data on gender, ethnicity and other dimensions of diversity across leadership and employee levels

b) Employee wellbeing

  • Highlight your dedication to employee wellbeing
  • Discuss work–life balance initiatives, mental health resources, and training and development programmes

c) Community engagement

  • Describe your positive contributions to the communities you operate in
  • Share volunteer efforts, social impact projects and partnerships with local organisations

3. Governance excellence

a) Ethics and compliance

  • Demonstrate your commitment to ethical business practices
  • Describe anti-corruption and bribery prevention measures and whistleblower protection policies

b) Corporate governance

  • Explain your corporate governance structure and highlight mechanisms for transparency and accountability
  • Write about your board, their experience, their diversity and how they interact with management regarding key ESG and sustainability issues

c) Risk management

  • Outline your approach to risk management, including environmental, social and financial risks
  • Discuss mitigation strategies and risk oversight practices – tell your readers what steps you take to manage risk in your own company as well as in your sales channel and supply chain

4. Data and measurement

a) Quantitative metrics

  • Back up your claims with measurable data
  • Use relevant ESG frameworks and standards to ensure data consistency and comparability

b) Target setting and progress tracking

  • Set ambitious but achievable ESG goals and track your progress towards them
  • Showcase year-over-year improvements and areas for future focus

5. Transparency and storytelling

a) Clarity and readability

  • Present information in a clear, concise and understandable manner and avoid jargon and technical language
  • While numbers are important and can be displayed in graphs, it is also important to explain in words how things are working and what your plans are to improve

b) Engaging narrative

  • Tell a compelling story about your company's ESG journey, highlighting challenges overcome and achievements celebrated
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the challenges and where you see difficulties

c) Stakeholder focus

  • Tailor the report to your specific stakeholders' interests and concerns
  • Address stakeholders’ most pressing ESG questions and showcase your commitment to their values

6. Materiality and relevance

a) Focus on material issues

  • Prioritise information that is most material to your company and its stakeholders
  • Identify and address the ESG issues that have the greatest impact on your operations and the environment

b) Avoid greenwashing

  • Don't exaggerate your accomplishments or make unsubstantiated claims
  • Be honest about challenges and areas for improvement

c) Continuous improvement

  • Commit to ongoing improvement in your ESG performance and reporting practices
  • Set ambitious goals for the future and demonstrate your dedication to long-term sustainability

7. Accessibility and engagement

a) Multiple formats

  • Make your report readily accessible in various formats, including online, PDF and print
  • Consider different stakeholder preferences and accessibility needs

b) Interactive features

  • Enhance your report with interactive elements like videos to keep readers engaged and interested
  • Use interactive graphs and charts to increase accessibility and understanding

c) Feedback mechanisms

  • Encourage stakeholder feedback and dialogue
  • Provide feedback channels and actively engage in conversations about your ESG initiatives

8. Future-oriented vision

a) Long-term strategy

  • Outline your long-term ESG vision and strategy
  • Show how your ESG commitments are integrated into your business goals and future plans

b) Climate change and sustainability

  • Demonstrate your commitment to tackling climate change and building a sustainable future
  • Discuss your goals for carbon neutrality and your role in the transition to a low-carbon economy

c) Innovation and collaboration

  • Highlight your innovative approaches to solving ESG challenges
  • Show how you have collaborated with other organisations to drive positive change

9. Risks and opportunities

a) Sustainability risks and opportunities

  • Discuss how your operations are impacted by climate change, resource scarcity and other sustainability challenges
  • Outline the present opportunities related to these risks

b) Scenario planning

  • Demonstrate your preparedness for the future by outlining potential ESG scenarios
  • Outline your strategies for adaptation and mitigation regarding the identified ESG scenarios

10. Honesty and assurance

a) Transparency on challenges

  • Don't shy away from addressing your ESG challenges
  • Be transparent about your shortcomings and the steps you are taking to address them

b) Independent verification

  • Consider engaging third-party assurance to verify the accuracy and completeness of your non-financial data
  • Discuss the auditors’ expertise and knowledge and how they added value to the report

Speeki has launched its services to help provide assurance to companies that produce their non-financial reports. Reach out to Speeki to learn more.

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