Birmingham-based Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection and certification, has today released the results of a global white paper survey, titled “sustainability reporting – what leaders need to know.”
The survey, which questioned businesses in manufacturing, automotive and many more, explored the link between sustainability reporting behaviours, as more companies come under pressure from stakeholders to disclose their sustainability strategies and performance in detail.
Results and insights
Questioning more than 1,000 respondents, the conclusion found that an overwhelming majority of senior leaders are acutely aware of the need for more sustainability and ESG reporting, yet this isn’t being translated into action.
The results showed that two thirds of companies don’t currently publish a report, many of them deterred by a severe lack of time and resources needed to effectively meet sustainability disclosure requirements.
For the 34 per cent of companies that do already report – over half of them – have more than 1,000 employees, often with dedicated corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams. 10 per cent rely on senior management to lead sustainability initiatives.
69 per cent of senior managers say that knowledge is much needed in order to improve its sustainability performance reporting, citing accuracy, relevance, completeness and consistency of recorded information being the main driver.
In contrast, 70 per cent of the companies that do not currently report are SMEs – but are increasingly motivated to do so.
And organisations have no time to lose – in Europe, SME businesses will have to report on Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requirements in 2027 (2026 data) meaning that time is now of the essence.
In recent years, the future health of our planet has risen to first place on the agenda of governments and business leaders the world over. As result, sustainability or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting has also moved to the forefront as part of a wider focus on transparency and trust.
A company’s sustainability report is a key channel of communication that analyses the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by its activities, aimed at presenting its values and governance model. It is often published voluntarily but is now becoming an obligation and enables organisations to achieve a number of objectives, including growing stakeholder trust, offering added value, and improving risk management.
“Demonstrating transparency and complete honesty are critical to safeguarding a company’s reputation, avoiding accusations of greenwashing, and ensuring complete compliance, says David Murray, technical director for sustainability, at Bureau Veritas.
“A useful sustainability report has to be based on verified data and to comply with the EU’s CSRD. However, it should also tell an engaging story about the company to a wide audience beyond its investors.
“Businesses that do not yet make reporting a priority have no time to lose – and responsibility for getting started lies with top management.
“In preparation for upcoming requirements, an excellent place to start is to ensure that any report prepared is verified by a credible, trusted and independent third party, to accurately prove that sustainability performance data is accurate and unbiased.
“By undertaking this survey, we have found that there is still a long way to go for companies – and individuals working in senior positions within companies of less than 1,000 employees – to improve their knowledge and education in sustainability reporting.”
BV can support ESG data integration and automation to meet reporting needs.