Happy New Year! The new year barely started and it is already time for planning your acivities around reporting and disclosure of your companies environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities and data. Several external recognition and disclosure bodies have very strict deadlines – other dates can be chosen by the company itself.
This article focuses only on a few selected rating and disclosure schemes and is not meant to be a complete list. Depending on the industry, location and company size many more schemes might apply.
Also the number of ESG rating agencies and systems has grown over the last years and it is forseeable that this trend continues in the next decade. Those companies, agencies, media or even NGOs are assessing CSR activities and KPIs of a company in different ways and with continously changing depth and focal areas.
The 2020 timelines have to be confirmed officially. The release dates for the scores will be 20th January 2020 for Climate Change and 4th February 2020 for Supplier Engagement rating.
Typically the methodology is updated until January. The supplier engagement requests are sent out in April and the deadline for submission is end of July with different options for investor or supplier disclosure.
The invited companies will be announced in the February timeframe. Typically in April the assessment will open and gives around 8 weeks to work towards the deadline of submission end of May. After the review the results are likely to be published in the September timeframe.
The ranking of Gartner on the top performes within the supply chain business is also based on CSR data of third-party CSR measures as CDP or others. Their internal panel voting is happening in April and March and thus based on CSR-data disclosed before to be integrated in the overall rating.
Rating & Review
Many other benchmarking and rating questionnaires might need to be answered such as EcoVadis, Oekom, FTS4good, NQC/SAQ and others. In several cases the submission deadline and process can be adopted to the needs of companies. Make sure that you establish personal contact with customers using e.g. CDP or EcoVadis. This helps to streamline communication and share status and progress with your most important stakeholders.
Your own CSR-Report based on GRI, UNGC or other standards can be published in accordance with other reportings (e.g. integrated reporting) or based on your companies cadence. Most typically this work is also ongoing and provides a summary of the CSR activities often involving external help on content or layout.
What to do when?
- Q1: the first quarter should focus on the updated methodologies and final timelines as well as the internal alignment and orchestration of activities and personnel.
- Start CDP Investor or Forest
- Start DJSI process
- Corporate Carbon Footprint
- Q2: is the busy quarter. Many schemes such as CDP or DJSI request your submission.
- Start CDP Supply Chain process
- Work & Submission
- Q3: can be leveraged to focus on other activities and submissions such as EcoVadis or the UNGC COP with some more flexibility in scheduling.
- Q4: use the last quarter of the year to reflect on the accomplishments, provide gap-analysis and plan the following year. In many cases Q4 is also used for additional reporting.
How do you get requests?
There are several ways how companies get or ask for data. If your active participation is required most likely the request is sent through the respective key accounts. It is important that your internal communication and training ensures that those messages are understood well and forwarded to the appropriate internal persons to take care. A negative example especially in large international corporations might be that several different locations or facilities are providing individual, uncoordinated and often simply wrong information which might influence business and investment decisions for the whole company. Make sure you avoid silos and double work by embracing sustainable intelligence.
In any case it will be beneficial to plan your reporting and disclosure year ahead – and start NOW! Most succesfull companies work in a transparent and quarterly cadence making sure all activities and data is aligned with the responsible teams and internal sources. Best practice for any CSR person or department is to be
- very clear about deadlines (when)
- be precise about what is needed (what)
- be transparent with the usage of data (why)
- leverage wherever possible existing processes and systems/data points (how).
Ideally, activities are not only launched at the beginning of the year, but internal deadlines are also orchestrated in such a way that internal review and decision-making processes are adhered to and a good buffer to the real external submission deadline is integrated. Many of the reporting schemes are changing or updating their methodology every year. Make sure you read through the updated documentation or attend e.g. a webinar to not be surprised last minute assuming that it is “business as usual”.
Use different sources such as newsletters of respective disclosure and rating insitutions and companies. Also, the DFGE provides regular updates on background, news, events and CSR news on the blog. In addition, ask your industry associations and peers and align with their activities, e.g. the Blue Competence initative of the VDMA.
An opportunity to avoid greenwashing
In summary those disclosure and rating activities should be seen as an opportunity to stand out from your peers and to deliver a transparent story of your CSR journey. Do not fool yourself and your investor or customer by pretending to be “sustainable” without any transparent proof and change in behaviour and business processes. If you have any questions about these topics or any other requests, please contact us via email@example.com or by phone on 08192-99733-20