Industry benefits from CSR and sustainability reporting

Sharing priorities and progress inspires business and environmental initiatives.

By Sheila Kennedy, Contributing Editor

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The values of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are becoming ingrained in how companies operate, even when they are not actively pursued. Leading manufacturers and utilities are not only embracing these concepts, but publicly sharing their successes, failures, and goals in annual sustainability reports.

Managing CSR processes and benchmarking sustainability data allows companies to document their stewardship and performance progress, improve operational efficiency and profitability, and comply with voluntary guidance standards such as ISO 26000 and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework. Advancements in analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are improving reporting ease and opportunities.

General Motors and Exelon are among the companies that have implemented data collection and management systems to help them communicate their CSR and sustainability progress. Because they so strongly believe in the business, environmental, and societal benefits, they are eager to share their goals, approaches, and recommendations with those embarking on this path.

Reporting objectives

“GM’s sustainability strategy is about creating long-term value for the company and for the communities in which it operates. That is the framework for everything we do. There are exciting, measurable benefits on both the environmental and business side that we see from telling this story, and being authentic and transparent in how we tell it,” says Jasper Jung, sustainability manager at General Motors Company (GM).

“Our annual sustainability report and disclosure efforts help us to build relationships and trust around our work in the communities where we operate. We see that reflected not only in goodwill and in terms of strengthening our corporate reputation, but we also see that directly translated into business benefits in terms of attracting new customers, increasing sales, and increasing trust in our brand,” he explains.

“At a foundational level, reporting on Exelon’s sustainability initiatives allows the company to comprehensively tell its own story about its sustainability priorities and progress,” says Bruce Alexander, senior manager of strategic environmental analysis at Exelon Corporation.

“Among other things, our report helps to address our customer, community, shareholder, and current and prospective employee’s interest in Exelon’s approach to sustainability. It is also used to communicate on issues related to sustainability with elected and appointed government officials and other policymakers,” he explains.

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