Why You Need Sustainability Reporting & Storytelling

by | Oct 4, 2018

Shelton Insight

Sustainability represents our path forward as a nation that cares for the environment, and ties into the belief that there’s a shared responsibility for what happens next. Indeed, sentiment for this word has improved significantly since 2015, when our Eco Pulse Buzzwords report found that 59% of Americans felt positively about “sustainability.” In 2017, 70% of respondents rated it positively. (Shelton Eco Pulse 2017).

Sustainability Win of the Week

While reporting is no substitute for storytelling, it’s critical. If you can’t articulate your sustainability and CSR goals in numerical form and report progress on or hurdles in the way of them, then you probably don’t have a substantive program and shouldn’t be trying to do any storytelling. Bottom line: have a program worthy of a report, and start making the reports for NGOs, investors, potential partners/supply chain members and even future employees. Then do your storytelling to key stakeholders.

As you head into reporting, there are a few recent items to be aware of:

– From Eco-Act: “The ‘Sustainability Reporting Performance’ report, which ranks Dow 30 companies on their sustainable business practices, finds that despite a lack of mandatory reporting regulations on climate risk, 100% of Dow 30 companies publicly report carbon emissions.” Bottom line, look at the reports for the top 10 here and emulate them.

– The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA; funded by Aviva and the governments of the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Denmark, among others): Aimed at encouraging businesses to stay focused on achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2015, the WBA debuted this past week during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The WBA’s intent is to provide clarity on what society expects from businesses with regard to SDGs and believes its efforts will promote competition within the business sector to achieve higher benchmark scores.

– From KPMG: Speaking of the SDGs, earlier this year KPMG published a study that “explains how to report on the SDGs, where to start and what good looks like.” While 40% of companies acknowledge the SDGs in their reporting, less than 10% have set specific and measurable business performance targets related to the SDGs. Companies are thinking about them and talking about them, but they’re not setting targets and reporting on them.

So, create serious goals and metrics, ideally connected to the SDGs as recommended by the WBA and KPMG, and report on them in high-quality fashion as noted by Eco-Act. Then tell your story! Less than 8% of Americans could match more than half of the companies we tested with the stand they’ve taken. In fact, if you look at the top three companies Eco-Act calls out as exemplary in their reporting, only one makes the list of brands Americans tell us they’ve purposely bought because of their stand. So, two of the top three are missing out on fully leveraging the powerful things they’re doing for the environment and for society. And that’s just a shame.

News of the Week

Top sustainable companies: Duke Energy makes it 13 years in a row – PR Newswire

Speaking of companies with strong sustainability stories and the metrics to back them up, Duke Energy was recently named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for North America for the 13th year in a row. The DJSI rates companies’ progress in the areas of corporate citizenship, environmental policy and climate strategy, among others. We’ve seen some of Duke Energy’s progress firsthand in our work with them, so we’re happy to share their news.

IKEA going all electric with fleet vehicles, installing chargers at every store – Inside EVs

IKEA is going all electric – switching over its entire fleet of store and home delivery vehicles with electric cars. The transportation and infrastructure changes will be implemented company-wide, in all 350+ stores and 30 markets. The company hopes to make the switch in the next 10 years and is currently pursuing investment and partnership opportunities to aid the transition.

Do consumers really care whether brands take a stand?

Yes, they do. But your brand can’t choose just any stand and expect them to love you for it. Learn how social purpose can create connection with consumers.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.