Vehicles for Disclosure
The incredible uptake of social media and social networking over the past several years has forced companies to re-evaluate what it means to be “transparent” in a world of radical transparency. A shift to web-based reporting has also brought with it new technologies focused on engaging the user in innovative ways and creating a customized “report experience.” Companies should disclose sustainability performance data through a range of channels to ensure they are reaching a wide variety of key stakeholders.
What may be an effective communication strategy for one stakeholder group may be poorly suited for another. For example, the inclusion of sustainability information within financial filings is a key mechanism for reaching investors, while a stand-alone report may be more accessible to community stakeholders.
Sustainability reporting is becoming the norm. With online reporting on the rise, companies are also communicating performance trends to stakeholders through interactive web platforms. For example, Hewlett-Packard’s interactive data dashboard presents up to five years of trend data for energy, GHG emissions, waste, water and product reuse and recycling, and also supports interactive links driving stakeholders to relevant graphs and targets.
Many companies are also distributing sustainability information through Facebook, Twitter and company blogs. American Electric Power, for example, compiles the social media “chatter” received about the company and distributes it to its managers on a daily basis, providing stakeholder concerns and opinions in real-time. AMD's Corporate Responsibility blog features authors from across the company on topics of interest, including what sustainability leadership means to AMD executives or how the company is engaging employees to drive product innovation. The blog also looks to educate employees on key sustainability challenges for the company and its sector, such as the sourcing of conflict minerals –tin, tantalum and tungsten—from the Democratic Republic of Congo.