It’s easy to fixate on the mechanics of sustainability reporting – getting lost in the weeds of detailed metrics. This focus is both understandable and valid. But sustainability reporting is not, and never should be, viewed as an end in itself. Rather, it is a means to overcome the disconnect between ambition and action.
Sustainability reporting serves a variety of purposes. How it is used depends largely on the priorities and lens of the stakeholder. For investors, sustainability information can offer insight into hidden material risks and corporate governance. For policy makers and regulators, disclosure can be leveraged to encourage behaviour change towards stated policy goals. For consumers, employees, NGOs and other stakeholders, transparency provides a lever to improving ethical, social and environmental performance.
Deloitte conducted interviews with leaders from around the world, gathering perspectives on the challenges in delivering ESG information and the actions required to catalyse behavioural and systemic change. The perspectives vary, mimicking the lack of alignment in the ESG reporting landscape and the diverse priorities of stakeholder groups.
Deloitte consolidated the feedback from these interviews identifying six conditions needed to shift from the current position of inconsistent and unreliable data to a point where sustainable decision-making really does bring about demonstrable actions in the near term. This paper summarises the views of the interviewees.
In an attempt to harmonise these views and move from fatigue to action, Deloitte has taken the composite of what we learned and developed a blueprint for change. Conversations identified six recurring themes or conditions that need to be in place to drive from the current position of incomparable and unreliable data to one where ESG reporting really does catalyse demonstrable actions at pace.