How much do companies spend on their sustainability report?

Respondents in our last survey indicated whether a certain task is handled internally and/or externally. The proportion of respondents with a budget of 0–19 TEUR has increased since 2018, and logically, so has also the proportion of internal work. There is a small increase in tasks not performed and examples of these are translation (by far the most common), photography and illustrations.
budget sustainability report

Percentage of annual work hours

annual work diagram
In-house work

We asked how many of the responding person’s own annual work hours are devoted to the sustainability report. About half of the respondents answered between 10–20 percent, which corresponds to about 200–400 hours. Only one respondent devotes more than half of the annual work hours on the production of the sustainability report, in 2018 that figure was 5.

How many people are responsible for the content internally?

people responsible for content
It is equally common to have 1–2 and 3–4 persons who are responsible for the content of the sustainability report. This may be connected to the large number of smaller entities in this year’s survey. Here responsibility means that the person is the one who finally approves the content of a certain section of the sustainability report.

How many people contribute to the content?

people contributing to content
It is still most common that between 10 and 19 people internally help to fill the sustainability report with content. By content we mean text, numbers and/or comments. Worth noting is that there are large companies that rely on 100 people or more to contribute to the report.

Internal hours invested

internal hours invested

Industry, size, ownership and years of reporting all play roles in hours spent

The number of internal hours spent on the entire sustainability report production still varies quite a lot between the companies in the survey, which is illustrated above. In 2018, looking at all respondents, 655 hours were spent and this year the amount of hours is 692. The preparers of their first or second sustainability report spent 550 (2018: 500) hours and the ones reporting for 3 years or more spent 750 (714) hours.

Similar to what we saw in 2018, entities that have reported for a longer period of time, tend to use more frameworks, principles and guidelines which can be part of the explanation for spending more hours. Large entities with more than 10,000 employees spend about 60 percent more hours compared to entities with less than 1,000 employees.

Respondents working in the ‘Financial’ and ‘Energy’ sectors used up to five times the amount of hours than respondents in the ‘Information technology’ and ‘Healthcare’ sectors, which were the industries with the lowest amount of hours invested.

The ownership of an entity also plays a role in how much time that goes into the sustainability report process. Companies that are not listed but have several external owners spend the least amount of hours on average, 605, followed by the listed companies, 658. In our last survey compared to that previous, the publicly owned entities spent around 45 percent more hours in fact. We do need to keep in mind that the selection of companies was expanded this year and even if there is quite a significant part of recurring respondents, it is difficult to draw far-reaching conclusions.

Assumptions: the annual working time is 2,000 hours, the responsible person’s time has been calculated as the reported share of the annual working hours. The working group’s time has been counted as 25 percent of the responsible person’s time. Others have contributed 2 hours per person.

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