CSR reporting is for companies to document their impact on the environment, economy, and community in a formal report. These reports tend to be published annually and are made publicly available to anyone interested, though the CSR reporting itself remains an ongoing process.
CSR reporting presents an ideal opportunity for organisations to become more transparent about their operations and the extent of their “corporate social responsibility” efforts. Businesses disclosing their social performance are now increasingly held accountable for their actions and tried against their commitments. This liability encourages measures taken to be considerate of and appropriately sensitive to issues existing outside the immediate business realm. As a result, the reviewing aspect of CSR reporting also encourages businesses to seek to improve their current practices and adopt more sustainable ones.
For conscious consumers and stakeholders, CSR reporting is important to gauge whether the intentions and goals of a company are aligned to their own values and expectations, enabling them to reach informed decisions about whether to invest, purchase, or even take active steps to protest against the business. Businesses already involved in reporting and turning things around for the better will appear attractive to these individuals and reap the benefits. Others will either be forced to change to stay afloat or risk themselves going under.
In light of the growing emphasis on this trend, we have created a number of tips for best practices to relay for your CSR reporting:
1. Decide your framework
When businesses begin CSR reporting, they can soon become buried with data and overloaded by information. Establishing a clear plan of action from the outset will ensure this can be avoided and provides direction to gather and audit the information most relevant to your organisation. For example, the framework for a building company will likely need to map their resource supply chains as well as demonstrate their support in the local community.
2. Define, measure, and monitor your goals
Companies need to provide a clear outline of their goals and how these will be measured for CSR reporting. This ensures performance and progress can be tracked with ease and the process is straightforward for audiences to be able to understand. Continuing with our building company example, giving a number of hours of volunteer work over a year or perhaps donating a certain value of building materials to help with local projects are ways to showcase and quantify support in the local community. These figures can then be monitored monthly or quarterly, for instance, to hold the business to account for remaining on track with their goals at the end of the year.
3. Align CSR goals with your strategy
Beyond outlining their sustainable development goals, businesses also need to identify and explain how these relate to their mission and strategy overall. This is important to note for CSR reporting to aid readers and potential investors in gauging the overall health of a company and further understanding ambitions for growth and the future.
4. Report to your stakeholders
Given that CSR reporting is made publicly available, businesses should aim to fulfil a range of needs for the different parties interested, especially when much of the purchasing power for services and products is held by potential investors and consumers.
If a company is inwardly focused on growing profits, rather than reducing its negative impact, CSR reporting will raise awareness of this to stakeholders. As a result, current and potential employees interested in the corporate culture, policies, practices, and response to wider environmental and social issues may soon look elsewhere. The response for stakeholders will likely be the same for any business simply not reporting – silence often speaks volumes.
Providing insight into short, medium, and long-term goals can receive positive financial outcomes from those reading the reports for investment. Consumers can actively choose to support businesses with good social intentions, while investors can weigh up the strengths and weaknesses as well as project the extent of risk a company poses to investment. This could be based on the measures taken and policies in place for managing and mitigating the consequences of global warming and climate change, for instance.
5. Consistency and transparency
Last but certainly not least, consistency and transparency for CSR reporting are essential. Consistency enables readers to easily compare previous reports and track your progress over time. Transparency, on the other hand, helps to build trust in your audience and gives your results greater validity.
Overall, the uptake of CSR reporting for businesses is on the rise and the benefits for communities and the environment are huge. By following our 5 tips for CSR reporting, your business will retain employees; attract new customers, investors, and talent as well as set the benchmark for being considerate, trustworthy, resilient, and future-focused.
At Investors In Community, we host an online platform that connects companies, individuals, community groups, not-for-profit organisations, and charities to share support for a range of causes. In exchange for every donation, volunteer work, and contributive effort that gives back to the community, a sum of credits will be received under our Community Credits initiative. Businesses can use this scheme to measure the value they are adding to the lives of community members as part of their CSR reporting. Sharing these recognised positive contributions with their social media and website audiences also enables businesses to raise awareness and boost their brand image in performing good deeds.
Request a free demo of our digital platform to choose your next charity challenge and see the difference CSR reporting makes to your business and within your local community.