Sustainability reporting for businesses

Sustainability reporting is the disclosure of non-financial, sustainability-related information by companies. It can be required by law or undertaken by choice.

Start now or take your sustainability reporting to the next level

Meet the legal requirements as well as stakeholder needs and be prepared for the future.

What is sustainability or ESG reporting?

Sustainability reporting falls within the scope of activities of corporate sustainability management. The purpose of ESG reporting is to provide information about a company’s material impacts. The terms “CSR report” (referring to Corporate Social Responsibility) and “ESG report” are mainly used synonymously. An ESG report contains the results of a materiality assessment and the company’s responses to it. Successful sustainability reporting depends on good data management and clear processes.

4 Steps to get the best out of your reporting process

A guide for businesses on how to create a sustainability report
4 steps to your sustainability report

Sustainability reporting usually takes place according to the following steps:

 

  1. Define and start the project
  2. Find out material topics
  3. Set indicators and collect information
  4. Create the sustainability report

Why you should report your business’s impact

Sustainability reporting acts as a well-established instrument to communicate one’s impacts, performance, and efforts transparently to stakeholders. However, stakeholder requirements are not the only increasing driver. Reporting is also a helpful management tool to determine the status quo of one’s sustainability performance. 

Furthermore, the importance of sustainability reporting has increased because compliance has become a key factor. We recommend that companies consider the increasingly stringent regulatory requirements when making their long-term decisions. Increasing momentum from directives such as the CSRD or the Swiss RBI/CO is forcing companies to report on their sustainability performance in greater detail and based on predefined indicators and topics.

Does your company meet international standards?

At present, the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive), which replaces the current Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), dominates the sustainability reporting discussion and defines its scope. Within the next few years, significantly more companies in the EU will be required to report on their non-financial data related to their sustainability performance.

As a result, companies will be faced with extended reporting obligations in the future. During our many years of experience in sustainability reporting, we have learned that companies need to react well in advance to prepare for the regulatory requirements in good time. We accompany you on the way to professional sustainability reporting in line with current and future legislation.

How we help your business to benefit from transparent reporting

Your company benefits in many ways from professional corporate reporting on sustainability topics with the help of our EY denkstatt experts:

Always up to date

We support compliance with current reporting standards (e.g., NFRD, GRI Universal Standards, SASB, DNK, IFRS / Value Reporting Foundation, UN Global Compact Communication on Progress, Swiss RBI/CO) and upcoming ones (e.g., CSRD and the respective ESRS – European Sustainability Reporting Standards) and correspondingly early preparation. 

Better than good enough

Improve your sustainability approach and reporting process in the long term: EY denkstatt services encompass comprehensive support for first-time reporters as well as taking over individual outsourced reporting tasks for companies with established routines.

Sustainability as a whole

We consider connectivity to other relevant standards or guidelines (e. g. EU Taxonomy or TCFD framework). We also provide support for a wide range of sustainability-related topics that are reflected in your sustainability report such as decarbonization and climate strategies.

Multiple awards

Consulting from EY denkstatt stands for quality. This also applies to sustainability reporting, which has already received several awards (ASRA).

Flexible support

Our experts offer support in terms of preparation, implementation, and continuation of sustainability reporting and the handling of associated services.

Our sustainability reporting services

We offer you comprehensive support throughout the entire process of creating sustainability reports according to international sustainability reporting standards:

 

A guideline for companies on how to create an ESG report according to GRI standard
Your road to a report according to GRI

Reach out to our expert to find a solution that suits your company!

Amira Zauchner

International Service Lead CSRD, Associate Manager ESG Strategy & Supply Chain

Read more >

FAQ

Frequently asked questions on sustainability reporting and standards

Sustainability reporting must always be preceded by defining the most relevant sustainability topics – a so-called materiality analysis. In addition, data management is important to be able to collect non-financial KPIs on sustainability. Sustainability reporting can be conducted according to different sustainability reporting standards such as GRI or the integrated reporting framework. 

A sustainability report encompasses all elements of solid ESG management: A report requires the identification of material environmental, social and ethical topics. It depicts KPIs and the current management approach and discloses sustainability strategies and targets. Furthermore, a report requires an organizational set-up (ESG Governance).

A sustainability report in accordance with GRI Standards meets a certain quality standard. GRI reporting means that the report contains various information specified by the Global Reporting Initiative.

If your organization would like to create a GRI compliant report, two options are available (from reporting year 2022: “In accordance with GRI” and “With reference to GRI”), which depend on the degree to which the standards have been met. Reporting is a process that evolves over time. Companies that are  publishing an initial report or find themselves in the early stages of reporting should therefore start with the option “With reference to GRI”.

It should be noted that sustainability reports for the year 2022, which will be published in 2023, must implement the new GRI Universal Standards (2021) for the first time. We are looking forward to assisting your organization with the implementation of the new standards.

If you want to publish an ESG report according to an internationally established and recognized reporting standard, GRI is the optimal choice. Reporting based on GRI can provide the depth of disclosure that all of an organization’s stakeholders request. In addition, GRI prepares you well for the future reporting requirements imposed by the CSRD.

Depending on various circumstances, further standards can be considered. For instance,

  • SASB / IFRS / Value Reporting Foundation for companies with activities in North America,
  • TCFD for a focus on climate risks, or
  • sectoral standards (e.g. EPRA sustainability standards for reports in the real estate sector)

If your organization would like to create a GRI-compliant report, two options are available (from reporting the year 2022: „In accordance with GRI“ and „With reference to GRI“), which depend on the degree to which the standards have been applied. Reporting is a process that evolves over time. Companies that are therefore publishing an initial report or find themselves in the early stages of reporting may start with “With reference to GRI”.

It should be noted that sustainability reports for the year 2022, which will be published in 2023, must implement the new GRI Universal Standards for the first time. EY denkstatt is looking forward to assisting your organization with the implementation of the new standards.

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