Most of the FTSE-100 now publish annual sustainability reports. But those who
don’t may find themselves obliged to in the near future. The question is, who
reads them, and why?
A survey recently published by KPMG in association with environmental
think-tank SustainAbility, which asked those who read sustainability reports
from companies across the globe, found some interesting answers.
Almost 60% of readers came from the business sector, with the rest in
consultancies, investment houses and government departments.
Publishing sustainability reports can help a company attract new business, or
at least project a more favourable image for potential investors.
More than one-quarter of respondents reading the reports were prospective
customers or suppliers, while 60% read them to help benchmark a business’
One criticism is that the reports need greater transparency. There is a fear
that companies will not incorporate ‘bad news’ in their reports but readers
want to know both the good and the bad and say that, by being more open,
companies demonstrate greater commitment and credibility.
Further improvements suggested by the survey include incorporating
stake-holder feedback into strategy and targets, since including critical
stakeholder views shows a more serious commitment to sustainability.
Additionally, reports could demonstrate how companies take account of risk
management or research and development in their sustainability strategies.
According to the survey, readers expect and want to see:
• A link between sustainability strategy and overall business strategy;
• Clear evidence of a commitment to sustainability; and
• Measurement of the impact sustainability activity has on the organisation.
According to Bank of England Governor Mervyn King who is chairman of the
Global Reporting Initiative companies are “becoming increasingly aware of the
need to report on such issues in a consistent and transparent manner”.
For the full report, go to
and search for ‘count me in’