Guest Blog: Sustainability reporting a constant work in progress

25 Sep 2018
Kaapua Smith, Head of Sustainability - Generation & Development, Contact Energy

For anyone who has had the privilege of pulling together your company sustainability report – I feel your pain. It is like giving birth to a baby.

The journey is long and sometimes painful, but the results are worth it. If you do it well, you can show your baby off with pride, enjoy the oohs and aahs from the admirers, and look forward to the pat on the back from those who have trod the path before you.

You will also delight in the knowledge that you will soon be able to pass on critical advice from your experience to those who have yet to go through the process. Poor things… they have no idea what’s coming.

At the start of our sustainability reporting journey, there was a lot of work that went into convincing people ‘why it mattered’. After producing our first few reports the value became clear as our stakeholders reacted positively and our ESG (environmental, social, and governance) ratings improved.

We also received positive feedback on the transparency of our reporting. Sustainability reporting is now ‘less-foreign’, our processes are embedded and it has become part of how we do things at Contact.

The message I want to leave with readers of this blog is that sustainability reporting is a process of continuous improvement. As your people become more comfortable with the approach, your systems become more embedded, and your sustainability programme matures, things get easier. That’s not just reflected in your practice and culture – it also comes through in your reporting.

We’re still ‘on the journey’ at Contact, although I think we’ve come a long way.  Instead of focusing on ‘why we do it’ the conversations internally have changed – our people are now asking ‘how do we do this better?’ Each year we look to do something more, and improve our reporting.

This year our focus was on expanding our reporting to include the Taskforce for Climate Related Disclosures recommendations. Next year we’re looking at whether or not we move to Integrated Reporting.

Beyond the reporting framework, we’re also asking how do we tell our stories better? How do we connect more with what our stakeholders are telling us they care about? Are we providing the right data? How do we display this data in a more visual and engaging way? How do we find efficiencies in the reporting process? And more.

It’s a big job – but take it from me - it gets easier and it gets better. Like the birth of a baby, when you’ve got the wonderful treasure in your arms, the pain of the process eventually becomes a distant memory.

Kaapua Smith
Head of Sustainability - Generation & Development, Contact Energy

Contact Energy's latest sustainability report - see the 2018 Annual Report, from page 40

Read more about sustainability reporting in the latest SBC Member Review