Sustainability or sustainable development is defined by the United Nations as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
At its heart, sustainability is about balance—a balance of interests and impacts. What is the purpose and intention behind the act? Who benefits and who is negatively affected? Are you able to maintain or keep your work going to meet current and future needs and aspirations?
In the corporate context, sustainability is often used to refer to the “triple bottom line” approach to business, with respect to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, and the People, Planet, Profit approach. Companies deliver not only economic results (earnings, transparency in accounting, etc.), but also good social performance (labor conditions, employee health and safety, diversity and inclusion, supplier assessment, corporate social responsibility, etc.) and environmental performance (effect on biodiversity, emissions, water and power consumption, waste management, climate change mitigation, etc.).
Sustainability is bigger than CSR. In fact, CSR is just one aspect of sustainability practice. CSR is also relationship-building, and usually concerned with the present-day need to give back to the community. Sustainability is more holistic and looks at the short-, medium-, and long-term impacts of the business and its community initiatives.
A Sustainability Report (SR) is a collection of data disclosures and stories. It covers a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. With the sustainability report, specific items need to be addressed under ESG.
The SR may also discuss economic performance, but more in terms of stability of the company and how much of revenue is redistributed—that includes everything from labor costs to taxes to investments in the local community or CSR efforts.
Worldwide, the most commonly used set of standards is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework.
Pilipinas Shell’s 2nd Annual and Sustainability Report
Reporting is voluntary and becoming more popular among both private and publicly listed companies in the Philippines. Notably, the Code of Corporate Governance for Publicly Listed Companies states that: “material and reportable non-financial and sustainability issues are disclosed.” While some of these companies disclose their sustainability data within an Annual Report, many are also opting to publish a standalone Sustainability Report.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also issued a Draft Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and Template for publicly listed companies, similar to other parts in the world. For a listing of stock exchanges worldwide that have committed to enhancing corporate transparency and performance in respect to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues, please visit the United Nations’ Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative website.
Companies report for various reasons, but perhaps foremost is that there is a demand for it—from investors, customers, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders. Sustainability reporting allows companies to touch base with its stakeholders and discover the important issues, both internal and external, that need to be addressed. It allows companies to be self-evaluative, and at the same time very transparent, in meeting all the requirements for disclosure.
Among the benefits of issuing a sustainability report:
Drink Asian Dragon Infographic Sustainability Reporting Value
Drink is currently the only sustainability communications agency in the Philippines. We believe that real change can happen when businesses go beyond reporting; we help them get there.
Our main goal really is not just to help a company produce a good Sustainability Report, but for that company to reflect on and practice sustainability on a daily basis. The report is a tool to understand sustainability, and to study company data and garner insight that will help solve different business problems, including how the company’s impacts on society and the environment. We unflinchingly report on the issues that the company is facing, and we communicate the good that the company is doing to resolve these issues.
UnionBank 2016 Sustainability Report
We understand sustainability. At the same time, we have our strengths in the creative field, so we are adept at using alternative formats. We do not stop at the Sustainability Report, but move into audio-visual presentations, comics, digital communications, real-time activations, and the like. Drink employees come from diverse backgrounds: environmental science, literature, broadcast communications, international studies, design, and psychology. Some of us came from advertising agencies, others from media, still others from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). All of us are advocates of sustainability.
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