Atlanta-based Novelis is the global leader in aluminum flat rolled products, which are used in beverage cans, license plates, aircraft skins and more. Novelis is also the world’s largest recycler of aluminum. With a bold vision to reduce the embedded carbon in its products by dramatically increasing its use of recycled content, Novelis is recognized as a sustainability leader. The company is also an award-winning sustainability reporter – it released its fourth annual sustainability report in December 2015 – and BuzzWord has provided Novelis reporting strategy and content development assistance every step of the way.
The development of Novelis’ 2015 sustainability report took place amidst a transition point in the company’s sustainability journey. After a few years in which Novelis rapidly expanded its operations and laid out a ground-breaking sustainability vision, market headwinds and a change in the company’s leadership meant that 2015 brought a refocusing of priorities toward operational efficiency and executing on its investments. The challenge for the 2015 sustainability report, then, was to clearly convey the company’s strong progress and ongoing commitment to sustainability, while also transparently communicating its refocusing of priorities and expectations about a likely moderated pace of progress in the near term. The resulting GRI G4 Comprehensive report does just that.
Southwestern Energy (SWN), a Houston-based natural gas company specializing in hydraulic fracturing, published its first full corporate responsibility report in late 2015. BuzzWord provided assistance to SWN – a first-time reporter – from the outset, assisting with everything from reporting strategy, benchmarking and materiality analysis to content development and GRI analysis.
SWN has a great story to tell, as it is among the leaders in the industry in wastewater recycling, methane capture and community engagement. The challenge was telling that story to a broader public that is often critical of the industry as a whole.
The resulting GRI G4 Core report includes a wealth of detail and data on SWN’s environmental performance, conservation efforts, health and safety practices, community engagement, workforce programs and more. The report moved the company from 27th to 6th in an influential ranking, conducted by the Investor Environmental Health Network, of the top 30 oil and gas companies’ reporting and transparency efforts.
We’ve all been there. You navigate to a company’s corporate responsibility website or sustainability report and come upon an engaging landing page. Something moves, drawing you in. You scroll through key messages and stats, maybe sample some video. Then you start to click around looking for a specific piece of information. But to mix some carnivorous metaphors – where’s the beef? You find the site is all sizzle and no steak. If you’re able to find substance at all, it’s brief, breezy and not especially candid or strategic.
What happened? A May-December romance between a new technology trend of fluid design (or the ability of a website to be viewed on phone, tablet or laptop) coupled with the age-old tendency of organizations toward opacity and obfuscation. Mate the two and you can end up with fluffy little communications that multiply like Tribbles.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A number of organizations have cracked the code and provided corporate responsibility and sustainability communications that work well on any device without sacrificing transparency and comprehensive disclosure.
The Ford sustainability report, which aside from an eight-page PDF summary is all online and all responsive, provides engaging top-level messages on material issues while also allowing users to drill down to details and data . Nike’s sustainable business website, designed to appeal to consumers as well as sustainability specialists, offers multiple ways to engage with key messages and data and points power users to a PDF report that offers a comprehensive look at progress against their targets.
It is possible to have your beef and eat it too.
Everywhere you look in the sustainability world, megatrends are being identified, analyzed and prioritized. PwC, for example, has spotlighted a set of megatrends that it is using to inform all of its work. Many of their peers and consultancies have done similar trend analysis.
Why this surge of interest? Perhaps the most obvious reason is that as the pace of change accelerates in technology, society, geopolitics — and even the natural world — it’s ever more important to understand the direction and drivers of that change. The current focus on disruptive innovation is also a natural fit with megatrend analysis. As organizations of all sizes embrace the idea of disruption (if not always the reality), it’s essential to understand what the disruptive forces are and how they will influence winners and losers in the marketplace.
Megatrends are also making their way into sustainability communications and reporting. Companies ranging from DSM to Bosch are articulating how megatrends are shaping their business.
At Ford Motor Company, chief futurist and megatrend guru Sheryl Connelly has been identifying consumer-related trends for years and sharing her insights publicly through a trend report book. For the Ford 2014/15 Sustainability Report, BuzzWord developed an innovative method for using megatrends to inform and “amplify” the materiality analysis used to shape the company’s sustainability strategy and reporting. The same report identifies the mobility megatrends that are guiding Ford’s thinking as it develops sustainable solutions for future global mobility.
Are megatrends a trend that will last? Most trends wax and wane, but unless the pace of change slows, identifying important changes in the world will continue to offer important insights to inform sustainability strategies and initiatives.
Smithfield Foods today launched a new website, www.smithfieldfoods.com, that brings together a wide range of information about its ongoing efforts to be a sustainable consumer packaged goods company. Embedded in the site is the company’s integrated report, with content developed by BuzzWord. The new site replaces a corporate responsibility-only site and a corporate website (there’s also a consumer-facing site at www.smithfield.com). The site is notable because it includes a range of content that updates frequently, including press releases and videos, along with the comprehensive disclosures in its integrated reports. The entire site is designed to be responsive, or useable on any size device.