Sustainability and CSR reports are rarely read – with the exception of those who write them and those who audit them. That doesn’t make them useless. At their best, they provide an anchor point and focus for those within companies trying to manage business impacts.
Still, that is a lot of time and money spent on little return. So what can be done?
One approach would be to address reports about business impacts to the stakeholders affected by the business. Of course that would make for some extra work since the interests of staff, say, are different from those of environmental NGOs. But the reward would not only be reports that are read, but very likely also a far richer and more integrated engagement process with stakeholders.
A good group to start with would be children. Children are an under-served stakeholder, yet one with which many large consumer-facing companies are deeply involved – think of all that advertising. And it is quite possible to write reports that are child-accessible.
So – those that sell to children should report to them.