“Accountability breeds response-ability.”

– Stephen R. Covey

What is a sustainability report?

A sustainability report provides information about performance on economic, social, and environmental dimensions. It is often available as a stand-alone document separate from financial annual reports and other financial information. Other common names for a sustainability report are corporate responsibility report, environmental report, corporate citizenship report, accountability report, and social report. Throughout these modules, we use the term sustainability report for simplicity.

There are five modules in this set designed to help you learn “How to Read a Sustainability Report.” If you complete all of the modules in this set, you will be equipped with an understanding of the following:

  • Basics: Comprehend different models of sustainability and sustainability reporting.
  • Contents: Recognize different components of a sustainability report and their purposes.
  • Credibility: Identify characteristics that increase the credibility of sustainability information.
  • Performance: Assess an organization’s economic, environmental, and social activities as it relates to its commitments.
  • Assurances: Recognize different types of procedures for increased the reliability of reported information.

All the modules contain components designed to place you in the world of sustainability reporting. You will experience the following:

What Happens in Practice?: Examples from organizations’ actual reports
What Companies Say…: Quotations from companies who engage in reporting
Takeaway: Concise summaries of the module concepts
Learning Check: Reviews of your learning
Glossary: List of terms and their definitions

Before you begin your journey through the five modules, the frames that follow provide a brief overview of early reports and their role in accountability to an organization’s stakeholders. They will give you a sample of the layout of the five complete modules.