Decoding the reporting acronyms: SDG, ESG, CSR

Hint… it’s all about measuring impact

Sustainable Development Goals

Are the leaders at your organization looking to measure its impact? Bottom line financials track performance and measure growth, but these are often lag indicators: they look back on performance last quarter or last year. What about measurements that consider the bigger picture? The broader, forward-looking contributions an organization can embed into their goals. 

How about taking stock on the impact your organization has on the world? The people and communities, the environment and species, the wicked problems we are all experiencing today due to globalization?

How would your customers feel if they knew your organization took a stand on inequality, invested in clean energy, or promoted responsible consumption? Would your employees get behind company initiatives related to good health, quality education, or clean water?

Impact reporting over the last twenty years

It was two decades ago that I first worked in impact reporting. I was the Canadian lead responsible for launching a global accounting firm’s sustainability advisory services. Companies using these services would track and report on their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Reporting standards were evolving and global brands, mainly in energy and natural resources, reported on metrics beyond the financial bottom line, providing some additional assurance and in many cases, a social licence to operate.

In the next phase of my career, I learned how other sectors were adding industry-specific measures to gauge performance relative to other brands. I created a sustainability program for an apparel brand in an industry which was coming together to collaborate on best practices related to responsible sourcing, ethical production and environmental footprint. 

Any type of non-financial reporting was and remains completely optional in 2021. Why? Because financial reporting (driven mainly by public company requirements) includes only at the bottom line: that which considers last quarter results, or last year’s. It looks backward and is based on short-term thinking which, in my mind, is old school thinking.

Measuring what matters now

In the last decade of my career, I’ve been immersed in learning about measuring what matters for organizations. My clients are looking at setting big hairy audacious goals, and using better tools to measure the difference they’re trying to make in the world.  

Tools like a balanced scorecard, which measure non-financial objectives that really make a difference in how an organization can move the dial forward. Online tools like the BCorp B Impact Assessment, which measure a company’s impact on its workers, community, environment, and customers.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs for short), consider global impact with a collection of 17 interconnected goals that were agreed to by 193 United Nations member states in 2015 to serve as a blueprint to build a better world for people and our planet by 2030.

ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) is also becoming prominent in the investment world, where analysts consider quantitative data related to environmental, social and corporate governance criteria. This analysis is now used to help investors to better predict future financial performance. It uncovers how a company can produce value for years to come, not just the next quarter.

Elevate your impact for future generations

Are you looking to leave an impact that your kids would be proud of? What will your organization be known for post-pandemic and in generations to come?

Let’s explore what reporting standards will help to amplify and share your impact. We start with the foundation and get grounded. Measure the baseline. Then set goals that will motivate and inspire your team, your customers and stakeholders, your kids.

Once the seeds are planted, we find the best path toward growth, one that is conscious of future generations.

Contact us today to get started.