Back in June last year, in our article ‘Future-proofing starts with sustainability’, we wrote about the different reporting frameworks that can be considered and utilised to guide your sustainability strategy and prescribe appropriate metrics.
While it showcased all the possible options, what it also did was raise questions, such as ‘How do you select the most appropriate framework?’ and ‘Should we only use one?’. Here we delve deeper to help ensure that the sustainability process is understandable.
If you are at the framework selection stage of your sustainability process, you will have already discussed and outlined your material issues and developed a strategy covering the short, medium and long term. Within this, you will have developed clear aims and objectives that allow you to work towards a common sustainability goal.
So where do the frameworks come in and why haven’t you used them already?
These frameworks provide support when you look to report on your progress, rather than being used to develop your strategy. Before reaching this process, you will have considered what is most important and relevant to your company. These frameworks provide a broad range of issues across different themes, and not all of these will be relevant to the focus of your strategy. You can’t tackle everything at once, which is what you will have realised when outlining your material issues, and you should have the same mindset when looking at frameworks. Not one framework will fit all of your aims, and vice versa.
All of the frameworks focus on different aspects and are all worded differently. For example, some are based on generic disclosures, such as the UN SDGs, that link to a common goal. Others allow you to rate your practices using a scoring mechanism, and others simply list disclosures that you should include within your sustainability reporting.
By taking a look at each of these frameworks one at a time, you can understand which of the principles align closely with your own agenda and focus on these moving forward. The government has now made the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) mandatory, and so this should firstly support you in reporting more meaningfully and cohesively about climate-related risks. However, you may want to take your sustainability reporting further. You are likely to have some alignment with the UN SDGs, as these discuss wider sustainability considerations, but you may also be focusing on your performance against mitigating climate change for example, which will mean that you might want to consider the Climate Disclosure Standards Board’s scoring framework.
If, when developing your strategy, you have decided that your company wants to focus on a single strategy that aims to deliver financial and non-financial value, then you are undoubtedly going to need to follow the Integrated Reporting Framework. However, this does not mean that you are going to need to focus solely on this. Take a look at some of the other frameworks; do any of these also align with your focus?
Looking at this task as a whole, it is clear that you aren’t looking to select a framework, but instead looking through each framework to select appropriate principles, recommendations and disclosures to guide your sustainability reporting.
While this is a lengthy and daunting process, you will see the benefits when developing your reports, as well as when looking to contribute to wider, worldwide sustainability aims and objectives. However, we are always here to help you with this task. Our team has knowledge on which would be most appropriate to fit your strategy, and can guide you through this process. So, do not hesitate to get in touch with us for support.