Meet the faces behind the findings! Together, Wesley Gee, Kevin Ward, Momina Sumbal and Kate Heron conducted extensive research in assembling The Works’ 2018 Sustainability Reporting Trends. To introduce the sixth edition of our observations and best practices in sustainability reporting, we asked our research team what surprised them the most about this year’s trends.
Wesley Gee, Director of Sustainability
What surprised Wes most about this year’s research?
While I was really pleased to see the quality of uptake of frameworks like the SDGs (i.e., shifting from goals to targets) and TCFD (i.e., addressing the recommendations and, in some cases, scenarios), I can see a ton of opportunity for companies to improve how they plan their sustainability communications so that they are creating assets that meet stakeholders’ expectations – both in terms of meeting them where they are, and in creating right-sized pieces. Most companies really aren’t there yet. I was also pleased to see a modest bump in integrated reporting, and in the use of more timeless themes that connect to a company’s purpose and how it creates value.
Kate Heron, Marketing Manager
What surprised Kate most about this year’s research?
The “purpose-driven brand” is something we’ve been keeping our eye on for some time, as a signal that was sort of blowing in the wind. But when it came to social media use and other digital marketing strategies, the data really supported this concept. Most companies in our sample are making significant investments in promoting their sustainability initiatives on main brand social channels, and getting very savvy about how they go about it. Anecdotally, in the next few years, I anticipate that we’ll be spending more and more time collaborating with internal social teams to create content that supports and promotes sustainability initiatives – and perhaps even using social to invite consumers to get involved in the stakeholder engagement process.
My favourite integrated social media strategy this year was Verizon’s #humanability campaign, which included gorgeous 10-second video clips and a tiny microsite. One of our staff astutely called it “the new press release,” and I totally agree.
Kevin Ward, Senior Art Director
What surprised Kevin most about this year’s research?
I was completely blown away by the way Nike and Eni SpA seamlessly incorporated video into their online communications. Great storytelling, ranging from cinematic to journalistic approaches. Eni SpA had a particularly strong interactive audio testimonial interface on its Green River Project microsite – produced in association with CNN International.
It was also great to see that the number of companies applying an overarching theme was up from 37% to 67%. So, again, a good improvement in storytelling.
The number of reports including illustration was also up considerably – from 20% to 77% – suggesting it’s becoming an increasingly important communications tool.
I particularly loved the separate digital strategies section this year – which includes some really interesting metrics and great examples. It was really interesting to learn about the number of companies using motion graphics to get audience attention. Kudos to Kate.
Momina Sumbal: Sustainability Analyst
What surprised Momina most about this year’s research?
There were a few things that were really interesting for me in this year’s research. Firstly, I loved that companies are taking a more focused approach to reporting on frameworks like the SDGs, with specific targets and progress measures in place. I also really liked how some companies are taking a unique approach to communicating with their stakeholders on their sustainability strategies. Seeing multiple executive messages within a single report, or interviews with external experts and stakeholders, added a nice layer of storytelling and engagement in this year’s reports and showed how companies are staying up to par with stakeholder needs and concerns. I think there’s an opportunity for companies to incorporate more meaningful testimonials within their reporting to provide different perspectives on their strategy, commitment and progress.
Want to learn more about this year’s research?
Contact us today to learn more about our 2018 observations and best practices.