Sustainability reporting is crucial for your company, your customers and your employees. “Sustainability Reporting” is sharing your sustainability actions, goals, and achievements with your stakeholders and community.

At my company, Green Buoy, we take “reporting” to mean sharing concrete sustainability goals, achievements and actions. In reporting, you are sharing sustainability numbers, figures, years and baselines on your website, on social media and in the press.

With more and more consumer interest in sustainability and transparency, it’s up to companies to share what they’re doing.

Sustainability reporting is not a light undertaking. The data that you collect during sustainability actions is not just for internal motivation. So why share it? Companies are more transparent than ever and increasingly sharing data. Research links positive financial performance to ethical, transparent companies.

There are numerous benefits to reporting. Reporting makes you more accountable, it aids employee and customer retention, it helps mark progress, shows competitive advantage and paints you as an expert.

Sustainability Reporting Gives Accountability

Reporting (or promising to report) data keeps you accountable for those actions. Studies show that people that write down goals and create accountability around them are 76% more likely to achieve them. Create accountability by sharing your sustainability goals internally company-wide, or externally on your website or social media.

Then, once you’ve shared goals, report progress good or bad. Say what you’ve been working on and how it has affected the goals. Knowing that someone is watching your usually puts an extra pep in the step to improvement.

No Greenwashing Here

Labels like “natural” or “good for the earth” are certainly better than nothing but create no sense of trust with the consumer. Avoid greenwashing and use sustainability reporting that includes concrete examples and numbers creates a stronger sense of trust. “Good for the Earth” or “Actions Offset Enough Carbon to Equal 100 Acres of Planted Trees.” Which sounds better?

If you’re going to spend the time and money on sustainability, take the time to make it authentic.

Employee Retention and Validation

Sustainability reporting provides extra employee benefits and can assist in recruiting. Transparency and employee happiness are inextricably linked. Studies show it’s the number one factor in employee happiness. Employees that understand and trust management are more likely to feel engaged, according to surveys. Sustainability reporting is part of that. If you are working with employees on sustainability strategy and having them take action, reporting on their progress will make them feel appreciated.

If employees are being asked to contribute to reducing energy and your company manages to cut its energy bill by 40% in a year, share that! Seeing their company name in the press for positive deeds creates trust with employees.

Reporting is also a way to attract employees. Millennials are shown to be more loyal to companies active in the corporate responsibility space and 64% take into account company environmental and social action when considering jobs. Sharing initiatives and successes online recruits millennial employees.

Attract Customers

Similar to engaging employees, sustainability reporting also appeals to customers. Many customers, especially millennials, are more likely to purchase from companies that share their environmental metrics. If customers care about helping the planet in their own lives, recognizing a company that does the same creates a sense of connection.

Communicating sustainability in reporting is another way to show value to customers. Companies are constantly engaging with customers on social media sites and through events. Reporting is another benefit to communicate with customers.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

The market becomes more crowded every day. If you’re one direct-to-consumer mattress company out of 6 others in the market, a way to differentiate yourself is to be transparent on your supply chain, materials, and manufacturing. The percentage of customers concerned with materials and supply chain transparency will now be more likely to select your product over a competitor’s.

Show Progress

Reporting is a way to show progress in your company, to both customers and employees. By reporting your sustainability data, you have a record of your achievements and can show improvement and total savings over a timeline.

Especially if you were not as transparent as in the past, increased transparency as time goes on is another way to share your story and inform stakeholders on process and progress.

More questions? Read more on sustainability reporting, including how Q4 reporting sets you up for the next year’s success.

This article was originally published at Green Buoy Consulting’s blog on October 14, 2019.