Sustainability reporting: An increasingly compliance-driven process | HCLTech

Sustainability reporting: An increasingly compliance-driven process

Sustainability reporting has become increasingly compliance-driven, which may impact enabling meaningful sustainability outcomes
3 minutes 12 seconds read
Christina Herden
Christina Herden
Director, Corporate Sustainability
3 minutes 12 seconds read
Sustainability reporting: An increasingly compliance-driven process

Sustainability reporting is the process of presenting an organization’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance to various stakeholders.

The act of sustainability reporting has become more compliance-driven for several reasons:

  • Regulatory requirements: Many countries and regions have implemented regulations mandating sustainability reporting for companies, either directly or indirectly through requirements for ESG disclosures in financial reporting. This has led companies to view sustainability reporting as a compliance obligation to meet legal requirements.
  • Investor pressure: Investors increasingly incorporate ESG factors into their investment decisions. As a result, companies face pressure from investors to disclose their sustainability performance to demonstrate their long-term viability and resilience. This investor pressure contributes to the compliance-driven approach, as companies strive to meet investor expectations.
  • Stakeholder expectations: Beyond investors, other stakeholders such as customers, employees, communities and NGOs also demand greater transparency and accountability from companies regarding their sustainability practices. Meeting these expectations often involves reporting on sustainability metrics, further driving the compliance aspect of sustainability reporting.
  • Risk management: Companies recognize that failing to address sustainability issues can pose significant risks to their reputation, operations and financial performance. By engaging in sustainability reporting, they can identify and mitigate these risks, aligning with compliance-driven risk management practices.
Act, Pact, Impact - HCLTech publishes its 2023 Sustainability Report


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Impacting meaningful, sustainable outcomes

While compliance-driven sustainability reporting ensures that companies meet regulatory requirements and stakeholder expectations, it may not be sufficient on its own to drive meaningful sustainability outcomes. Some argue that a compliance-driven approach may result in "tick-the-box" exercises that prioritize meeting minimum requirements rather than driving genuine sustainability improvements.

To truly achieve sustainability goals, companies should view reporting as more than just a compliance exercise. They should integrate sustainability considerations into their core business strategies, operations and decision-making processes. Embracing sustainability reporting as a tool for transparency, accountability and continuous improvement can lead to more authentic and impactful sustainability practices beyond mere compliance.

Embracing sustainability as an integral part of a core business involves implementing practices that contribute to long-term environmental health, social well-being and economic viability. Here are specific examples of how companies can integrate sustainability into their core business strategies:

  • Renewable energy adoption

Google: Google has committed to running its global operations entirely on renewable energy. They invest in solar and wind projects and purchase renewable energy directly from producers to power their data centers and offices.

IKEA: IKEA aims to become climate-positive by 2030, focusing on using 100% renewable energy across its operations. The company has invested heavily in wind and solar energy projects and plans to produce more renewable energy than it consumes.

  • Sustainable supply chains

Patagonia: Known for its commitment to environmental sustainability, Patagonia uses recycled materials in its products, ensures fair labor practices throughout its supply chain and actively works to reduce its carbon footprint.

Unilever: Unilever has implemented a Sustainable Living Plan, which includes sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably and improving the livelihoods of farmers and workers within its supply chain.

  • Circular economy models

Dell: Dell has a comprehensive recycling program that takes back old electronics from customers and incorporates recycled materials into new products. Their "closed-loop" recycling program ensures materials from used electronics are repurposed into new products.

H&M: H&M launched a garment collecting initiative where customers can drop off unwanted clothes in stores. The collected items are reused, recycled into new textile fibers or sold as second-hand goods, promoting a circular fashion economy.

  • Sustainable packaging

Nestlé: Nestlé is working towards making all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company innovates in packaging design and materials to reduce plastic waste and improve recyclability.

Procter & Gamble (P&G): P&G has committed to using 100% recycled or renewable materials for its packaging by 2030. They are developing innovative packaging solutions, such as using plant-based plastics and reducing packaging weight.

  • Green building and sustainable facilities

Apple: Apple’s headquarters, Apple Park, is a prime example of green building, utilizing renewable energy, natural ventilation, and sustainable materials. Apple aims to make all its facilities worldwide carbon neutral.

Microsoft: Microsoft’s Redmond campus is designed with sustainability in mind, incorporating green roofs, rainwater harvesting, and energy-efficient systems. The company is committed to becoming carbon-negative by 2030.

By implementing these practices, companies not only reduce their environmental impact but also often achieve cost savings, enhance their brand reputation and meet the growing demand from consumers and stakeholders for more sustainable business practices.

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