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Natasha Malinda is a Consultant at the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) and has worked on sustainability reports for ACCSR clients since 2009.
In my experience working with clients on sustainability reporting for ACCSR I have found many common challenges and pitfalls for all types of organisations along their reporting journey.
Sustainability reporting is a steep learning curve. It reinforces to both companies and individuals why they embarked on the sustainability journey in the first place and where their organisation’s and their own values and commitments lie.
The biggest mistake a company can make in its attitude to reporting is approaching the task as a PR exercise. Although sustainability reports are good communication tools, a great sustainability report is fundamentally about accountability and performance management.
The second biggest mistake is failing to educate staff on that fact. Educating employees about why you have decided to report, why it matters and what this means for your company is the first step in gaining internal buy-in. Once these goals are established internally, this makes the reporting process much easier.
Dr Leeora Black is Managing Director of the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR). The question of how to manage large and complex organisations for responsible business outcomes is a major focus of her consulting work.
When we began analysing the responses to our State of CSR Annual Review 2010-2011, one of the things that most struck me was the ambiguous signals that Australian businesses are giving about the role of CSR in their organisations.
On the one hand, it’s clear – and very heartening – to see that more organisations are seeing value from CSR that goes beyond reputation and risk management. Businesses are seeing applications of CSR contributing to real value creation through new ways of working (e.g. saving costs through utilising more cost-effective resources, more efficient supply chains, employee work flow), new products and services and new business models – with the latter helping develop new markets and enhance existing market opportunities.
But on the other hand, most of the almost 500 managers and executives who responded to our survey said that getting organisational buy-in is the biggest single obstacle to their success with CSR.
Clearly, there is still something at the core of many organisations that says they don’t get it. What’s going on here? Why has senior organisational management still not fully comprehended that the opportunities flowing from CSR require full strategic consideration?