Annual reports show how sustainability work has developed

For those of us who are passionate or even obsessed with annual reporting, we are once again faced with a new challenge. Early autumn is a good time to start planning your reports so that the final rush of spring-winter is short-lived.

To find new and relevant ideas for your report, it’s also a good idea to look outside the box. What reports others are publishing and what themes are now making headlines. Based on a reasonable sample, three main trends emerged.

The climate is a topic above all others. Even small and medium-sized enterprises already have ambitious climate targets and are taking serious action to achieve them. Climate change and nature cover are seen as challenges that need to be tackled and that can be addressed to create a new kind of sustainable business. The pace at which companies are moving forward is staggering. A few years ago, emissions accounting data was mainly available from large listed companies, but now a number of smaller companies have published their emissions and plans to reduce them. This reinforces our view that companies are the solution to the climate crisis. Let’s hope that political guidance does not slow them down.

Another interesting theme highlighted in the reports is well-being at work. High employee turnover and fierce competition for talent are challenges for many companies, as labour shortages plague almost all industries. This is why we need to maintain job satisfaction in order to prolong working lives. On the other hand, workers’ demands on working conditions and working atmosphere have increased. Companies’ HR departments are working hard to improve the employer image and working atmosphere. While progressive practices are already in place, new ones need to be found. Or how about a Masterchef-level staff restaurant.

My third point relates to the scope of the reports. Some decades ago, a colleague of mine predicted that the production of annual reports would be the sunset. He has since excelled as a provider of reporting services, so a new peek into the crystal ball must have given a different view. The scope of reports has grown, and more and more companies are starting to publish a separate sustainability report or include sustainability information in their annual report. On the other hand, the scope of financial information and business descriptions has generally declined somewhat, so the trend could be said to be toward sustainability taking precedence over finance. Financial figures are history, so sustainability information enables readers to better assess the future development of a company. Only sustainable business has a future.

Want help with your reporting? Contact us – now is a good time to start!