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26

chapter 4

Reporting issues

The primary aim of most business measurement systems is to collect performance information for internal management purposes. But while the primary audiences for eco-efficiency information are within a company there are also various external audiences that will be inter ested in the information, especially at the corporate

level.

WBCSD does not recommend that companies prepare a separate or stand- alone eco-efficiency report, but rather integrate eco-efficiency information into their overall decision making and communications processes. Internally, it should be part of routine management systems.

Externally, eco-efficiency indicators

could be provided and interpreted in corporate environmental or sustainability reports as one of the integrating element between the three pillars of sustainability, and integrated

into existing financial reports. Eco- efficiency information can be communicated on a facility, regional, divisional, or corporate basis, recognizing the risks already identified of aggregating data across different products and/or operations.

UNDERSTANDING THE NEEDS OF USERS

When deciding how to communicate eco-efficiency information, companies

need to understand the users and their needs, and present data accordingly.

Eco-efficiency information can be used by a wide variety of audiences, both

inside and outside companies.

Internally:

Management uses the information for decision making such as how to improve products and processes,

and to set business goals

Employees in functions such as finance, process engineering and environmental management may have

a professional interest in the eco- efficiency performance of a company,

especially in the context of how they can work to make improvements. All employees are also likely to be interested in their company’s performance and their role in it.

Boards of Directors may incorporate eco-efficiency information and other sustainability issues in their strategic decision making.

External audiences may include:

Investors, accountants, shareholders, and analysts, who are beginning to look at how eco-ef ficiency performance of a company can influence its financial value and the quality of investments in it.

Bankers attempting to integrate eco-efficiency in their lending decisions and their view of a company’s creditworthiness.

Insurers may be able to use eco- efficiency indicators as a means to identify potential insurance risks and

set premiums, as well as assess the economic consequences of environmental performance.

International Standards Bodies may seek to integrate eco-efficiency indicators into the standards for management practices.

Communities may be interested in the performance of facilities in their ar ea.

Consumers may want to include eco- efficiency performance information as a part of their purchase decisions.

Interest groups may request that companies describe and quantify eco- efficiency in their public reporting as a means to help document their pr ogress toward sustainability.

MEETING AUDIENCE NEEDS

The following questions may help to develop a communications approach by focusing a company’s efforts on the key needs of its audience(s), and identifying key issues that must be dealt with.

  • What do specific audiences want

from the company?

  • What is the goal of r eporting?

What is the added value for the company of reporting eco-efficiency?

What is the risk (and how can the risk be managed) of reporting or not reporting the information with respect to : - not meeting the user’s expectations - corporate reputation - managing perceived “bad news” - raising new, previously

unknown issues?

  • Are there competitive issues associated with reporting eco- efficiency information such as disclosing potentially confidential or sensitive details, and how can those concerns be managed?

  • Should the information be evaluated and verified by an independent thir d party to improve its credibility with an audience?

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