How is the sustainability report project organised and what does it cost?
“In our organisation we have limited resources and the most important is to develop our sustainability work and create results. It’s important that producing the sustainability report does not take too much time from the work that leads to development.”
Judging from the collected responses, it is still most common for a sustainability department to be responsible for producing the sustainability report, but the number of respondents in the ‘Finance or other’ category increased in this year’s survey. This could be interpreted as a closer collaboration between Finance and Sustainability in the responding entities, but might also be a mere coincidence.
The fact remains that regardless of where the responsibility lies, the process does involve a large number of employees from different parts of an entity’s operations and is very time and resource consuming. The employees usually have other tasks that must be performed in parallel during the time that the sustainability report is produced. For this reason, it is very common to use resources and special skills outside of the organisation.
Out of the 116 responses to the question, 77 percent use external competencies when producing the sustainability report compared to 71 percent in 2018. The number of entities doing all the work internally is decreasing and considering the complexity in the process
The people involved in the sustainability report project
- Project management
- Production management
- Stakeholder dialogue
- Graphic design
- Text production
- Charts and graphs
- Language washing
How large are the external costs when producing a sustainability report?
This varies of course a lot depending on the extent and amount of information that is reported and how it’s distributed. For example, some respondents report sustainability information both in the annual report and as a separate publication. 83 respondents answered the question on how large the external costs of the sustainability report are and the average cost for the Swedish respondents is € 28,000 compared to € 32,000 in 2018. The average cost in the UK is € 22,000 and € 33,000 for the Finnish entities. In 2018 approximately 70 percent of respondents had a budget of € 50,000 or less for their sustainability report and the corresponding share this time is 80 percent. Six respondents buy services for more than € 100,000 compared to four in 2018.
Are first-time preparers still using external resources to a large extent?
There is little change in the functions/tasks performed internally and externally compared to our previous survey. The traditional bureau services, such as graphic design, illustrations as well as graphs and charts and translation are still performed mostly by external service providers, and the project and production management, text production, stakeholder dialogue and proofreading are typically kept in-house. Almost half of the respondents, 45 per cent, are not planning to change any of the key elements in the process for the upcoming report, whereas 23 percent plan to make changes to their graphic design and 18 percent plan changes to their stakeholder dialogues.
How will the work be divided in the near future?
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