Featured in BusinessWorld: Drink helps firms deliver sustainability reports

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This article was originally published in BusinessWorld.

DRINK Sustainability Communications is taking the lead in delivering sustainability reports for local firms, as more companies rush into incorporating sustainability programs into their business strategies.

Established in 2010, Drink started out as a creative advertising agency that came up with usual ad materials such as flyers, pamphlets, and brochures. About four years into the business, founder Harris Guevarra saw an opportunity to specialize in sustainability reporting with the growing demand for the service.

“There’s this new trend in business, a new service that nobody knows how to do, so I can study it, I can lead the game on that type of service. That was my mind-set… I started with a client (who first approached us to do it), and so we had a sample report. And then clients have been approaching us ever since to help them write the report,” Mr. Guevarra told BusinessWold in an interview in Makati City.

A sustainability report discusses a company’s environmental, social, and governance performance. This encourages transparency among firms on the impacts they have on societies, and helps investors check a company’s viability.

Mr. Guevarra explained that reporting sustainability strategies was borne out of a shift in mind-set, where companies realized financials were not the only important aspects in running a business.

“You also have to take a look at how you take care of your employees, the rights of your employees, their salaries, gender equality, anti-corruption systems, environmental impact across your value chain,” said Mr. Guevarra, who also sits as Drink’s president and chief executive officer.

Recent studies show that Philippine companies have been lagging behind when it comes to sustainability reporting. Only 22% of the publicly listed firms in the country have so far published sustainability reports in accordance with globally recognized standards, according to the 2ndCorporate Governance Study by the Good Governance Advocates & Practitioners of the Philippines in partnership with PwC Philippines.

With the growing demand for sustainability reports globally, Mr. Guevarra wants to prepare local firms should sustainability guidelines by fully implemented in the country.

He said they look at three aspects when it comes to sustainability reporting, namely people, planet, and profit. Profit refers to a company’s financial indicators, and is the basic figure one looks as to determine whether a firm is growing or not. The people aspect looks at employee’s salary, the salary ratio between men and women, and safety policies for the LGBT community, among others.

Meanwhile, planet refers to the environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, energy consumption, and the like.

Mr. Guevarra said that measuring these indicators will help companies address issues related to their businesses. For instance, one sustainability issue under the people aspect is the fast turnover among millennials. Through sustainability reporting, Mr. Guevarra said they can measure what’s causing this phenomenon: whether it’s the salary, working conditions, business assignments, and so on.

“Because you have data, you can tweak your policies and business strategies. So that’s what we do, we help them write the report, and we help them become conscious of their sustainability impact,” he said.

By knowing their sustainability impacts, Mr. Guevarra said they can also recommend what type of strategies would fit a specific company. Recognizing that sustainability initiatives should not always equate to tree-planting activities, he said that companies can establish programs that will help grow their business in the future.

For now, Mr. Guevarra said they are targeting top corporations and brands who can then serve as an inspiration for small businesses to follow suit.

“If you’re sustainable, all the companies who look up to you will also practice sustainability, even the small ones,” he said.