Sustainability reporting: value in virtue

The drive for companies to be more transparent about, and accountable for, their impacts is growing. Increasingly, governments are developing mandatory legislation to ensure that companies disclose how they are managing their environmental and human rights impacts (see 

Such disclosure is known as sustainability reporting, and is seen as a vital step towards achieving a more sustainable global economy. In 2015, the UN member states agreed on 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which provide an integrated framework for addressing the world’s most urgent sustainability challenges. Lise Kingo, CEO of the UN Global Compact, has highlighted “how important it is for companies to adopt sustainable practices and integrate this information into their reporting cycles” (see

Yet companies often experience difficulty in achieving these goals, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In its 2016 article ‘Sustainability Lessons from the Front Lines’, MIT says “never before have companies been more conscious of the need to run their business in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible fashion. Yet never before have theory and practice been wider apart."

"When it comes to practising and not just preaching sustainability, many companies struggle, and most flounder, in developing and implementing a sustainable business model.”

Many companies still express doubts about the value of implementing a sustainability programme, despite others reporting that sustainability is quantifiable, and that it plays a key role in adding value to their business. So what role has ...

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