5 Years of Sustainability Reporting- What’s Next?
Apr 23, 2019 -
My last blog, 3 Steps to Start the Sustainability Journey, recommended steps to get the ball rolling on sustainability reporting. After you’ve mapped it out and been on the journey for awhile, you may ask yourself, “What’s next?” That’s normal, and how it works any time you accomplish a goal. You reassess: what still fits, what have you grown out of, how have needs and desires changed? Cascade’s Sustainability Council asked these exact questions after working our way through the company’s first three-year sustainability plan and having four years of sustainability reporting under our belt.
Going beyond basic reporting and pushing your sustainability efforts improves your relationship with stakeholders and ensures your goals are aligned for long-term success. In this blog post, I offer you the next three steps to take your organization’s sustainability efforts to the next level.
- Stakeholder Check In
Most organizations are built on relationships with stakeholders: employees, members, clients, vendors, local communities, regulators, and many more. Sustainability reporting should provide transparency and insight into the way an organization functions and what it wants to achieve. It’s this openness that builds trust with stakeholders and strengthens those relationships. So listen to your stakeholders! Routine communications to collect feedback and ask relevant questions allow an organization to stay on top of current needs, desires, concerns, and everything else that drives these groups. Stakeholder concerns are dynamic, frequently shifted by external factors of the day and their own internal drivers which are often out of your control. Stay tuned and stay in touch.
- Goal Alignment
A next-generation sustainability plan must realign organizational goals with stakeholder concerns. A new plan or new reporting cycle may mean new goals, new metrics, or new benchmarks. As you set goals, be sure that you have the systems and processes in place (or at least a plan to get them in place) to support both the activities to achieve the goal and the data to report on progress. Remember to utilize your reporting framework to help ensure you are focused on appropriate data and initiatives.
- Push the Boundaries
Most sustainability program and reporting efforts start small. The five-year mark is a great time to really push the boundaries for more data and make more connections between operating processes and the triple bottom line impact. Be sure to stay on top of changes to your preferred reporting framework and network with other sustainability professionals for best practices and innovative way to tackle internal challenges.
The Cascade Journey
What a journey it has been. Our company has evolved significantly over the last five years — from a drilling partner to comprehensive environmental field services contractor. So too has Compass™, Cascade’s Corporate Sustainability program.
The Compass name was quite fitting back in 2014 when Cascade was just launching a formal sustainability program. Together, we navigated through what the triple bottom line really means to the organization and our stakeholders. We’ve learned how Excellence on Every Level translates to sustainability, from the grassroots efforts of our Green Team to the highest levels of management on our Sustainability Council.
This year, we created our second-generation Sustainability Plan which we call the 2020 Plan. A large-scale stakeholder engagement effort kicked off the process as well as a total reassessment of our goals and key performance indicators. All of this helped align our efforts with the new GRI Standards.
It’s been a privilege to serve with my peers on Cascade’s Sustainability Council. Compass continues to guide us as we move into the next level of our sustainability journey. I’m optimistic about the road ahead. No doubt there will be challenges and distractions along the way, but together with our stakeholders, we will continue to push the boundaries.
Cascade released our 2018 Corporate Sustainability Report on Earth Day, April 22, 2019. View or download the report here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
Sue Bruning is Vice President of Marketing & Communications with Cascade Environmental and serves as Chair of Cascade’s Sustainability Council. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Health from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from California State University Long Beach. Sue has over twenty years’ experience in the environmental services industry. She is certified in the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Process and has been helping companies share their sustainability journey for over ten years. Connect with Sue via LinkedIn.