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Australian research report sheds light on sustainability reporting

05 Apr 2012

The Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) has released a research report on how stakeholders read sustainability reports, how they use them, how this affects an organisation’s reputation, and what causes stakeholders concern.

The report, The state of CSR in Australia: Stakeholders as readers of sustainability reports, was presented at the Australian Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting held in Melbourne on 26-28 March 2012.

The data collected from 16 research projects conducted by ACCSR between 2006 and 2011, relating to stakeholder perceptions of sustainability reports, was analysed to produce the report.

Some of the findings of the research include:

  • A balanced report helps develop trust with stakeholders. Reporting both positive and negative, challenges and achievements, makes stakeholders more likely to see a sustainability report as a credible source of information
  • In terms of engagement with the report, contractors, suppliers and financial stakeholders are most likely to completely read a sustainability report
  • Stakeholders are more likely to use sustainability reports to understand an organisation's sustainability approach rather than sustainability performance
  • The greatest 'reputational uplift' from sustainability reports is gained when stakeholders learn something new about an organisation - producing a sustainability report provides the potential to improve reputation with minimal risk.

Click for access to the ACCSR report (free registration required).