What Happens in Practice?

Research on readability of sustainability reports has found that stakeholders have a number of expectations.

What readers expect:

  • some want a short, concise report that is no longer than 15-20 pages because of reader fatigue or time constraints.
  • yet others want all the detail on everything the organization does, both aggregated and segmented by facility down to the smallest detail.

What organizations do to accommodate readers’ different expectations:

  • produce both a concise, summarized report and a more comprehensive report.
  • note that additional information can be found on their websites.
  • customize reports by including only local community information for those reports distributed within operating communities.

In CSR Trends 2010, a joint report by Craib Design & Communications and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, reported that 37 percent of companies explained materiality in their sustainability reports. Non-North American companies were more likely to provide their definition of materiality than North American companies.

Nike, a major manufacturer of running shoes and apparel provided this statement regarding materiality in its report. Click here to view.
Dow Chemical Company has a diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses. Note Dow’s method of defining materiality. Click here to view.