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CSRD Report Part 6: Sample Corporate Sustainability Report Outline

Given that the European comprises the world’s third’s largest economy, and that neither China nor the US (Nos. 1 or 2) are known to be considering standards of this nature and breadth, organizations can benefit from following the European Union model if they see the marketing, communications, and competitive benefits of publishing a meaningful Corporate Sustainability Report.
If a company is not legally bound to follow the new European Union Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, it does not have to make publicly available a compliant Corporate Sustainability Report simply because it’s competitors do not have to do so, creating anything but the level playing field intended by the law.
For a complete report on the European Union Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, click here.

Here is a general table of contents for a UN conforming Corporate Sustainability report in terms of the topics to be covered.
1. General Principles, Goals, and Objectives of the Organization 
  • An organization’s general value proposition and purpose;
  • The risks and opportunities it creates for employees, supply chain and distribution partners, communities, and customers;
  • The benefits its create for stakeholders and the costs externalized onto society in terms substandard wages and benefits, health and safety risks, supply chain and distribution partner management, poor community relations, or pollution;
  • The verifiable processes and metrics to monitor progress; and any changes in strategies and corresponding reasons made in the previous year;
  • How what the organization does creates value by addressing societal challenges; i.e., increasing its talent pool by encouraging diversity in recruitment, professional development, and training. 
2. Employees, Employees of Supply Chain and Distribution Partners, Customers, and Communities
For each of the stakeholder groups, explain how the intended outcomes to be achieved will affect the lives of the stakeholders, being as specific as possible, including both opportunities and risks and that:
  • They are measurable/verifiable;
  • They are consistent over time in terms of definitions and methodologies to allow for continuity in the data points derived from the targets, and/or,
  • The standards or commitments on which the targets are based are to be clearly defined in the reporting (for instance code of conduct, sourcing policies, global frameworks, or industry codes). 
 Each section should address:
  • The key characteristics of each stakeholder group, the value created for them and risks entailed; what is being done to obtain meaningful feedback; what the processes are for addressing that feedback;
  • What consistent metrics are being used;
  • What changes in strategy have occurred and for what reason;
  • How an organization is balancing short, mid- and long-term issues, risks, marketplace and financial factors;
  • What are the effects of risks and opportunities, related to the organization’s impacts and dependencies on stakeholder group, on the organization’s development, including cash flow, financial position, and financial performance over the short-, medium- and long-term;
  • What are the short-, mid-, and long-term impact of key policies and decisions. 
Finally, where relevant, the report should disclose:

Tradeoffs. Document any trade-offs being made to create opportunities or to address risks that have an impact on key stakeholders and how they are being communicated, mitigated, measured, and addressed.
Communication. State the specific means of communication and/or training in order to communicate to relevant stakeholders opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs.
Stakeholder voice. Demonstrate the specific means used to engage stakeholders or their appropriate representatives on their specific concerns, complaints, or other issues; what is the process for taking action, measuring results, and continually improving.
Outline the action plan. The disclosure law authors are focused on learning what specific actions organizations are taking to create value and to address opportunities and risks, as well as on any course corrections and why.
Outcomes. The disclosure requirements emphasize reporting the results of efforts to create opportunity or to address risks and how to make sure there is a process for continuous improvement.
Human rights, social protection, safety, and worklife balance. Throughout the disclosures, the authors seek information ensuring that organizations are doing everything possible to ensure ethical employment and pay practices consistent with UN and other international standards specified in the draft standards.
Accountability. For every area of stakeholder engagement, it should be clear who is accountable for results; whether they are a full or part-time employee, and the training required for effective management.
For More Information
Bruce Bolger, Founder
Enterprise Engagement Alliance
914-591-7600, ext. 230

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