Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Story of a Sustainability Superwoman

There are plenty of excellent reasons to attend the Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit on 2nd and 3rd October 2018. I won't list them all here.

Just take a look at the website and you'll be convinced. Instead, I'll tell you a story. 

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Suyin. Suyin lived with her mother and father and seven younger siblings in a remote part of Asia, in a wooden hut, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities and the stresses of daily living in modern times. Suyin and her family were a close-knit group, relying on each other for love, support and inspiration. They lived on the resources of the earth, fishing, hunting and farming, taking from the land only what they needed to survive without wasting any precious resources. It was a simple existence, but it was a good one. 

As Suyin advanced in age, she noticed with each passing year that life in their region was becoming tougher. Rainfall patterns were changing, water levels were dropping in nearby streams, the soil was not as fertile as it once was, local wildlife had ceased to thrive. Slowly, Suyin was perceiving that her land was refusing to provide for them. And when she was just 19, there was a major typhoon that shook their wooden hut to its foundations, barely leaving it standing.

Suyin was worried about the long-term survival of her family. She knew she had to do something. Amid tears of farewell, she left her family, promising to return. She travelled by foot without a cent to her name until she reached a major city and there, she begged for food and money. What she was given, she saved. And when she had saved enough money, she rented a small room, and took a job in a small store. She did well. She was intelligent, capable and thoughtful and soon enough, she had enough money to fund a place at university, as she knew that without education, she would not advance and be able to help her beloved family. 

After studying, she was fortunate to be offered a job in a large corporation, in the Sustainability Department. In that role, she campaigned to mitigate climate change and advance social programs that would help families living in remote areas. She became a true sustainability leader, speaking all around Asia on the need to save the land and prevent environmental degradation, as well as taking care of communities and their ability to survive and thrive. Many companies followed her lead and joined the sustainability movement to drive positive change for prosperity. During this time, Suyin returned frequently to visit her family, provide them with resources and help them overcome their challenges. For example, she purchased a small farmer irrigation kit from Netafim so that they could irrigate the couple of acres they farmed and gain greater yields of fruit and vegetables with less water. 

In 2018, a colleague nominated Suyin in the annual listing of exceptional female sustainability leaders in the region, Asia's Top Sustainability Superwomen, an initiative of CSR Works International. Suyin was overwhelmed. She had never received such recognition for doing only what she thought was right. But will Suyin's nomination be accepted? Will Suyin shine through? How many more Sustainability Superwomen have been nominated and who will gain recognition at the Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit?

You can discover if Suyin is included in this prestigious list of Sustainability Superwomen in October in Singapore, at the Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit. Even if you don't get to meet Suyin, you will be able to engage with a host of inspiring women sustainability leaders and experts who have driven the sustainability agenda in Asia with passion and overcome challenges to ensure their voice is heard and improve life for all of us.

Come to the summit and celebrate Sustainability Superwomen with all of us. Overall, there'll be more than 60 international speakers (not ALL of them are women, however!) who will cover every important aspect of sustainability reporting in depth. You will hear directly from top leaders from

• Agility
• Bangchak Corporation
• Baoviet Holdings
• Bombay Stock Exchange
• CapitaLand
• City Developments Limited (CDL)
• CLP Power
• CP Group
• DBS Bank
• EcoVadis
• Golden Agri-Resources
• Hang Lung Properties
• Intel
• International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)
• John Swire & Sons
• JSW Group
• Kalbe Farma
• Maritime Ports Authority Singapore
• Microsoft
• RobecoSAM (DJSI)
• Schneider Electric
• Sime Darby
• Singtel
• SM Investments
• Suntory Food & Beverage
• Sustainability Accountability Standards Board (SASB)
• Tata Consultancy Services
• Union Bank of the Philippines
• Viego Eiris
and the list goes on

And of course, I will be there, co-chairing the summit with the man behind it all, Rajesh Chhabara.

Exciting debates and insights that will help you move the needle include:

Looking forward to a fun couple of days of learning, sharing, challenging and celebrating. Hope to see you there!

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 
Elaine will be co-chairing  the  second annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit 2018 in Singapore on 2/3 OCtober. Join me there!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cosmetic materiality

This week, a Press Release announcing the publication of AS MADARA Cosmetics ESG Report for 2017 caught my eye for several reasons. (1) Madara is a Latvian company - not too many of those publish reports - the GRI Database lists just 5 reports in 2017/2018 from Latvia. (2) It's a FIRST report - and you know how much I πŸ’— first reports. (3) It highlighted a CEO pay ratio of 1.68:1 and (4) It follows the NASDAQ ESG Reporting Guidefor Nordic and Baltic Markets.

Now, as some of you may recall, I wrote about this guide a while back in a post entitled: Materiality: from meaningless to differentiating. The thing about materiality is that so many companies today use it as a box to tick rather than a considered strategic framework for sustainable development and reporting. The low-level thinking on materiality where people, society and the environment are material to every company has rendered materiality fairly meaningless as all companies, no matter what sectors, are driven to report on the same thing. Advanced materiality thinking is differentiating; it identifies those unique impacts where a company has the power to change lives and society for the better. So, a broadscale, unimaginative, limiting approach to materiality doesn't serve to advance sustainable development, it simply serves the purpose of transparency and accountability, albeit that is also a worthy and necessary purpose. I call this operational materiality, and it is reflected in the NASDAQ reporting indicators for all companies, all sectors, all sizes.

Thirty-three basic measures of the ESG performance of the business provide a positive overview of how a company performs from a sustainability standpoint. 

Madara Cosmetics is a woman-led Latvian-based natural cosmetics firm traded on NASDAQ. The Madara report uses this framework, responding to all NASDAQ indicators (most are labelled - five are not labelled but the disclosures are present). Thus, in a refreshingly clean and attractively designed 50-page report, Madara covers off the bases using a compact set of universal indicators in a coherent way. 

However, the brand has gone beyond a simple response to a set of measures. It tells a story.

And it takes a stand.

Part One of the report is an education on organic and/or natural ingredients and the different certifications and standards that govern claims that cosmetics companies make on their labels. While intuitively, anything labelled natural or organic sounds environmentally friendly and healthy, this may not always be the case. 

It is clear where Madara stands here. A new ISO Standard 16128 for natural beauty products permits petrochemical and GMO-based ingredients, according to Madara, and is in general an inadequate and inappropriate standard for natural cosmetic products. Madara also attacks new EU regulation governing claims that can be made on cosmetic products, commenting that the new regulation compromises the rights of consumers to information about products they use and the ability to prefer products that do not contain certain ingredients. This is getting a bit messy according to Madara and may encourage greenwashing rather than science-based true and accurate product labelling.

A bold move. In this first report, Madara has chosen to take a strong and well-articulated stand against market regulatory developments that influence how consumers perceive natural cosmetics and influence competition for natural and organic share. This is a good use of the Sustainability Report. It helps us get to know the company and what it stands for. It places the company operations in a market context that showcases how Madara positions its brand and stands out from the crowd. This is part of the brand identity and a clear element of the way Madara impacts lives. Had the company developed a differentiating set of materiality topics, "accurate natural product labelling" and "influencing regulation governing natural cosmetics for the benefit of consumers" might well have appeared on the list.  

What I am missing, however, are the rest of these broader impacts. After the regulatory and ingredient-type discussions, the report continues in three sections - environment, social and governance - using the NASDAQ guidelines as a (mainly chronological) basis to report. However, beyond product formulations, I am wondering how the company reaches and impacts the lives of consumers. "Deeper than skin" is the company motto. I would like to understand why Madara's products are so transformational for consumers and what a difference they really make. What consumer needs are Madara products responding to and how successful are they? These impacts are overlooked in this report. 

However, this first report is a good example of an activist company using reporting to amplify its message and differentiate itself while observing stakeholder expectations on transparency and disclosure. In fact, with a report such as this, you wonder - would using the GRI Standards have made any difference? Or would it have simply complicated the reporting process? 

I tend to think that identifying material impacts is a positive step and creates a clear focus that guides the reader. A materiality assessment, robustly developed and clearly presented is a good backbone for reporting and I would have appreciated this addition in the Madara report. On the other hand, there are interesting and important disclosures in the NASDAQ framework that I believe all companies should report, whether or not their materiality assessment picks them up (and we all know that processes for determining materiality are somewhat arbitrary in most cases). A GRI-compliant report would probably not have included these disclosures.

In my post of last year, then, I talked about operational and differentiating materiality. Those who read GRI's Annual Report for 2016-2017 will have noticed a similar presentation.

As you can see, this matrix is split into two parts: operational and mission effectiveness, which, coincidentally or otherwise (who knows!?) are pretty much how I was seeing it in August 2017, a little before the publication of the GRI Annual Report in May 2018. Operational issues are the ones GRI directly controls - transparency, advancing people, and partnerships. Mission effectiveness are the indirect impacts - the difference the organization makes in society as a result of its operational activities - driving better sustainability performance, reporting and harmonizing the sustainability landscape. The thing you notice about this is that the operational impacts could relate to any company. The mission effectiveness topics are differentiating and unique to GRI. 

(As an aside, not all indirect impacts are linked to mission effectiveness. An indirect impact of GRI, for example, might be job creation in the sustainability sector, as more reports means more reporters. But this is not the mission.)

I think we are at the point where we must elevate our approach to materiality so that it refers to real ways that companies affect our lives, and not just the things that companies do. We are lacking a robust process for determining materiality. Currently, each company individually defines the degree of stakeholder engagement required to define material topics and ranks the topics raised in unclear ways. The was the big fail of G4 (and now GRI Standards) when it first put materiality center-stage in 2013. It made materiality pivotal but did not provide the tools for companies to apply it adequately. If materiality is at the center of sustainability strategy and reporting, and not just a cosmetic addition, the process for defining the material topics should be more clearly prescribed and evidence-based.

Well done to Madara Cosmetics for reporting and for speaking out on issues that affect people's lives. Materiality or otherwise, this is an authentic and credible report. I give it three cones -  🍦🍦🍦 - including one for a first report. 

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 
Elaine will be co-chairing  the  
second annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit 2018 in Singapore on 2/3 OCtober. Join me there!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Back to the Future

And the CSR-Reporting Blog is back to the futureπŸŽ‡πŸŽ†πŸŽˆπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸ¨πŸ¨πŸ¨. A future in which the CSR-Reporting Blog is back. 2018 has been marked by an uncharacteristic absence after almost a decade (10-year blog birthday coming up next month!). Apologies to those readers who have experienced withdrawal symptoms.... I hope you have kept up your ice cream intake despite  .. or because of ... the absence of posts from the most insightful and fun blog on CSR and Sustainability Reporting on the whole world wide web. (Modesty is exempt on this blog).

So what have I been up to since my last post way back in February? Here are a few highlights of my year so far, serving to demonstrate that, even though the CSR-Reporting Blog has been absent, I have not.

Reporting reporting reporting  
It's been an intensive year this year, again supporting clients around the world in delivering their sustainability reports and other communications. Overall, I have supported the writing and/or development of 10 reports this year, some of which will be published in the coming month(s), but all of which meant that I had a more intensive first half of the year than I might have imagined - basically sleepless - but also one of the most satisfying years at Beyond Business. Here are some of the reports I have worked on - more about these -  and the others that will publish soon - in future posts (now that we are Back to the Future).

Caesars Entertainment's ninth annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report for 2017-2018 under the theme of PEOPLE PLANET PLAY. This is the sixth report I have worked on for Caesars and each year, this company amazes me with its forward thinking, leading programs and multiple achievements. Each reporting cycle brings new challenges and but it's always fun! Caesars Entertainment Corporation is the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment provider with gaming, hospitality and entertainment offerings in several countries.

Nexeo Solutions' first Sustainability Report for 2017 is the result of an incredible journey of pulling together the different elements of sustainability practice for this global chemicals and plastics distributor and forming an overarching story about its global impacts on sustainable supply chains. This first GRI Standards-compliant report, supported by newly created corporate policy and position statements on key topics, was possible due to the dedication of the reporting team leaders as well as an entire company-wide effort.

ECI's Sustainability Report for 2017 is another fascinating chapter in the sustainability progress of an ELASTIC and sustainable future, as ECI helps us make the most of a 5G world. ECI®, a global provider of ELASTIC Network® solutions for service providers, critical infrastructures and data center operators, supports and delivers sustainable, innovative solutions and outstanding customer service, while operating responsibly and in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is ECI's seventh annual sustainability report and I have been privileged to work on all of them.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 2017 Social Impact Report continues the story of Teva's global impact on healthcare and access to affordable medicines, together with new initiatives to contribute to healthy communities through safe medicines, collaboration, health initiatives and innovative research. Teva is a leading global pharmaceutical company and the world’s largest generic medicines producer, with a portfolio of more than 1,800 molecules for generic products in nearly every therapeutic area, as well as specialty medicines. Teva's report also presents six new corporate positions and policies covering charitable donations, human rights, diversity and inclusion, occupational health and safety, environment and antimicrobial resistance.

Liberty Global's 2017 Sustainability Report is another in the series of Empowering Positive Change through Technology and a masterpiece in compact, on-point and super interesting sustainability reporting. At just 20 pages with a separate downloadable GRI Content Index, Liberty Global once again is an example of relevant and focused sustainability communications as well as impressive performance. For those who don't know, Liberty Global is the world's largest international TV and broadband company.

Reporting Conferences and Events
February 27 saw the 2018 edition of the annual Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference in London, which I again chaired. Matt Mace of edie.net summed up his views about the conference here, discussing the merits of the standalone sustainability report in the context of greater integration of sustainability practice in the business. An interesting debate, of course, as integrated reporting, which has never claimed to replace sustainability reporting, is starting to quite enjoy the promise of doing so, and even SASB, who has never claimed to be global, is starting to lay the ground for its worldwide debut. "Sustainability issues don’t have borders, and neither should our standards" claims Matthew Welch, President of the SASB Foundation, paving the way for global SASB domination. But GRI is not perturbed. According to Tim Mohin, GRI's CEO sustainability reporting is the new normal and he is optimistic that GRI will be able to lead the harmonization and alignment of standards, including SASB, to move away from the current "alphabet soup" of disclosure requirements and "stop asking the same questions in annoyingly different ways". You can engage with Tim Mohin in Singapore on October 2 as he keynotes at the second annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit 2018 (#ReportingMania) which I will co-chair, alongside the incredible sustainability leader, Rajesh Chhabara.

Also in 2018, I was delighted to conduct a one-day Sustainability Reporting workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia. Organized by the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia, led by the formidable Lela Khoperia, a dynamo driving the uptake of CSR in Georgia, the program was part of the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) and funded by the European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Participants from 18 local companies and organizations joined the workshop and I had writer's cramp signing all the certificates at the end! This is incredibly important for this young country as it continues to establish its presence and deliver economic growth - to date, no Georgian companies have reported on sustainability but, if the eagerness and application of the attendees is anything to go by, we shall be seeing a flurry of reports from Georgia in the coming years!

The Georgian speakers among you can read about the workshop in a blog post by Marika Mchedlidze.

Reporting and Human Resources Management
In the early part of the year, I collaborated with old friends from the academic world to help develop a paper entitled: "Have labour practices and human rights disclosures enhanced corporate accountability? The case of the GRI framework." authored by Sepideh Parsa, Ian Roper , Michael Muller-Camen and Eva Szigetvari. Highlights of the research and discussion include:

- Companies over-claim adherence to GRI reporting guidelines while failing to report detailed information on their workforce.
- Companies fail to provide material information.
- Limited evidence of companies acknowledging impediments they encounter when reporting on their workforce.
- Companies pay more attention to their internal (as opposed to their external) workforce.
- GRI fails to achieve enhanced comparability, transparency and accountability goals.

Serious stuff indeed ... for those interested in the intersection between CSR and Human Resources Management (HRM), this is a must-read paper (assuming you have already read my book, CSR for HR, of course!). And continuing the HRM theme, I again worked alongside Professor Michael Muller-Camen and other accomplished academics to develop a chapter in a forthcoming book for publication in 2019, “Sustainable Human Resource Management: Strategies, Practices and Challenges”. The concepts and practice of Sustainable HRM and CSR-based people practices in organizations are still overlooked by all but the most enlightened Human Resources leadership; often HR functions are bypassed as companies pursue sustainability strategies and engage employees via different channels. This continues to be a missed opportunity for the HR function, and for society. My mantra in 2013 was "It is time for HR to wake up to CSR" and it's still pretty relevant today.

More awards 
I was please to author once again the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards annual publication, Learn from Asia's Best, showcasing examples of winning reports and what made them stand out. Check it out for some really impressive reporting approaches, designs and content.

The fourth annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018 is now open for entries through November 2018, and I am bracing myself to close the year by putting on my judging hat together with a team of accomplished reporting practitioners and experts. I will read and review every single entry (as I have done for the past two years).  Good job that I am a reporting geek! 

Also in the last quarter of 2018, I will be joining another formidable team of judges to select the 2019 Sustainability Leaders. The UK’s largest and most prestigious sustainability awards recognize excellence across the spectrum of green and sustainable business. Entries are open till mid-September so now's a good time to think about who stands out for you on the sustainability landscape across 20 categories. 

So that's the Back to the Future round-up for the CSR Reporting Blog. Hope to maintain the pace as we move into the final stages of 2018 .. and many more exciting things on the horizon in 2019.

Thanks for reading the CSR Reporting Blog!

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 

Elaine will be cochairing  the  
second annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit 2018 in Singapore on 2/3 OCtober. Join me there!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Compass for CSR

In 2017, there were 173 countries in the world that had a population of 500,000 people or more (CIA Factbook). Country number 174 is Brunei, with a population of 443,593. That means that, with a workforce of more than 550,000 colleagues, Compass Group would displace Brunei as the 174th largest country in the world by population, ahead of Iceland, Malta, Barbados and many more. 

Compass Group's people are dispersed across 50 countries and are engaged in the meaningful occupation of serving over 5.5 billion meals per year in over 55,000 client locations. If you assume an average employee will take one meal per day around 250 days per year, then Compass is providing sustenance and nutrition for more than 20 million people every day. Now, that's some responsibility. It's also somewhat of a challenge, because it's not just about keeping bellies full, it's about catering to different local tastes and food norms, managing the supply of locally sourced ingredients, planning and controlling a complex supply chain, ensuring food safety at every step of the chain and most significantly in my view, helping people to make relevant, healthy and nutritious food choices so that they can feel good, be well and make a productive contribution at work and in their families and communities. So much of the way our society functions is affected by what and how much people consume, that feeding 20 million people a day is no insignificant undertaking.   

Despite this complexity, Compass Group's approach to CSR - positive performance - is characterized by a certain simplicity.  For example, four key strategic KPIs are presented right at the start of Compass Group's 2016 CR Report.

Food safety, workplace safety, climate change impact and wellbeing and nutrition make sense as key areas of responsible and sustainable business practice for Compass. These are four among a set of seven material impacts (that also include compliance, supply chain integrity and employee retention) that Compass manages and tracks consistently across the global business. Together this framework makes their focus crystal clear, intuitively relevant and simply manageable.  

The CR Report is also simply consistent in its presentation. For each of the material focus areas, Compass describes its management approach, focus areas and key metrics. In each section there is also a case study of relevant practice, responding to a global challenge, the reason the topic is important to Compass and what Compass is doing about it. Each section is aligned to the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals.  

A performance summary delivers results against 22 targets in each of these areas and describes progress made. All in all, an extremely neat, focused, compact and deceptively simple 31-page global report that does the job. 

If you live in the U.S. (where more than half of Compass’s workforce lives), or in the UK and Ireland (with 60,000 employees), you can look at country-specific reports that give local stakeholders a local menu and flavor (OK, pun intended).  

The architect of CR strategy, positive performance and disclosure is the impressive Nicki Crayfourd, Group Health, Safety and Environment Director of Compass Group PLC.   

Nicki will be joining me at the Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference in February in London (hint: did you book your place yet?  Contact me for a discount).  Nicki will join a fascinating morning panel discussing the connection between strategy and reporting frameworks. How do global sustainability priorities and reporting frameworks (SDG and GRI, to name two that you all know) define how you build your sustainability strategy and how you report? What comes first, the framework or the strategy? How do you connect all the dots? Seems to me that Nicki must have some pretty good points to make on this topic, given the way Compass reports. 

I decided not to wait until the conference to connect with Nicki. Here's a chance to get to know her ahead of the session. 

How has your career in sustainability developed?
Nicki: "My background is a little checkered, but hospitality has always been a common theme throughout my career. It is an amazing part of the business world to work in. I started in marketing originally, then moved to sales of in-store catering contracts to retailers. After a while, I joined a large food logistics company, where I was exposed to food safety, which I expanded to include nutrition and aspects of the healthy attributes of food. Later, I was asked to join our largest retail account, and it was a bit like being thrown in at the deep end with sales, supply chain, quality, marketing and managing the entire team. In this role, I set up a new focus for safety and sustainability. My company then actually merged with Compass and I was asked to take over the same role for the whole of the UK. Since then, after a spell of working in Europe, my role has continued to expand and for the past 5 years, I have had a global role covering workplace health and safety, environment for the Group, including leading the sustainability strategy development, reporting and supply chain integrity standards. It has been a great journey. I see it as proof that you can develop an idea based on passion, and together with a good business case, you can make things happen."

What has been the key to your success in embedding sustainability at a corporate level?
Nicki: "I think the fact that I had commercial experience and good knowledge of the business as a whole has been a big help. I believe that sustainability can be much more embedded in what the company is focused on anyway - not just a one-off exercise or additional project. I have tried to think about what else is already available in terms of insights through other channels. The idea is not to duplicate. There is not enough time to do things three or four times. Sustainability needs to draw from other activities in the business that are happening anyway, such as risk assessments, internal audit, legal activities, marketing and consumer programmes etc. We need to bring those into play, rather than always trying to create new things with the same people and groups."

With such a large number of employees in the Group, how to you engage everyone across the business?
Nicki: "We have policy and flexible frameworks that help communicate our expectations for the Group to the country teams. Distilling into a format that engages all the frontline employees is the remit of the country teams. We have a global leadership conference every three years, and this is critical in terms of key messaging, setting objectives and gaining alignment. It’s a good platform - countries take the key themes and then translate them into market plans based on local needs. I am quite dictatorial on requirements for data and this is a massive part of our journey. We require proof points and strong evidence of what we are doing based on consistent definitions and understanding across the business. We have invested in a portal with a third party to collect data from countries."

What's the need for local reporting in the UK and the U.S.?   
Nicki: "There are different topics that interest our customers, regulators and employees in different countries. In addition to our two biggest markets, I would like to expand our reporting to include more countries. I think it is important to have a connection to the local market through reporting, though it is true that sometimes I have to nag for stories. Our global report must serve a range of high level stakeholders and it does that well enough. We have also invested in our corporate website with better functionality and we plan to include updates during the year, mainly for ESG analysts, investors, clients and institutional shareholders and NGOs."

Smarter reporting. What does that mean? 
Nicki: "Smarter reporting means more transparency. Transparency is having the confidence to say what we have achieved but also that there are challenges we are facing and must still work on. There is naturally a certain tension when talking about challenges. The food sector in general is often targeted by the media in the UK and U.S., and sometimes the facts get confused by the media. This makes our sector less willing to be open beyond what's required. However, I feel we are making slow but certain progress."


It seems to me that there is always more to do, and there are always challenges to face. There is no perfect business. Sustainability, and the reporting bit, is a journey. However, it also seems to me that Nicki's process-oriented, focused and simple approach to embedding sustainability is a good recipe for more positive performance.

Join us at the edie Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference on February 27 and share your thoughts with Nicki, a large group of inspiring professionals and, err, me.

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 

Elaine will be chairing  the edie Conference on Smarter Sustainability Reporting  in London on 27th February 2018 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Simplifying materiality

Less than a month to go to the always-exciting edie Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference on 27th February 2018 in London: this will be the eighth conference in the series and every year, we always benefit from new insights about what smarter sustainability reporting means and to whom, what's influencing reporting, how the best do it best and how we can all do it better. It's always an intensive day packed with updates, stories and tips from experts and practitioners. I am hoping you can join and if you haven't already signed up .... contact me for a discount code to for online registration. 

In the meantime, I was chatting with Stuart Poore, Canon's EMEA director of sustainability and government affairs. Stuart will be joining the conference to talk about materiality in a session on "Materiality Uncovered" where we will explore where you start with determining materiality, who you engage with, how you prioritize and how you align materiality with strategy. All riveting stuff, which so many companies regularly battle with. Overall, however, Stuart has some solid advice for all of us (based on his experience of materiality work over the years in some what he calls very elaborate and complex processes):

"As far as materiality is concerned, my experience is that there is great value in keeping things really simple. I have learnt that a healthy dose of common sense and pragmatism gets you a lot further, faster."

I couldn't agree more with that! I often stare at materiality matrices that are so densely populated with trillions of issues that I wonder what the exercise has actually been worth to companies. Materiality, by its nature, is not a mass market commodity that you buy in bulk: Ah yes, I will have 5,000 material issues for my next report, please! It's not even a prescribed set of issues that you crib off someone else's sustainability report or a SASB standard. It's should be a small set of considered impacts that are specific to your company and its operations and strategic in value. Addressing material impacts should deliver both business value and social value in a meaningful way. It's not simply doing business responsibly, which can apply to absolutely everything a business does. Defining materiality is actually not all that difficult. The sophisticated scoring and analysis systems created by some companies to deliver a set of dots on a grid is often so overkill that they probably have no time or resources left to do anything about the issues behind the dots. Keeping it simple and using everyone's collective common-sense sounds both rather obvious and also immensely refreshing.

Having said that, Canon's 2017 Sustainability Report takes simplicity to the other end of the spectrum, by stating two broad-brush sustainability material impacts that cluster together a number of issues.

Two all-encompassing issues is certainly a simple way of defining materiality but it could be any company, anywhere, anytime. So, it also makes common sense that materiality should be a little more company-specific. In fairness to Canon, a materiality matrix is provided specifically for environmental issues.

And the report narrative is very detailed on different social impacts that Canon addresses in its sustainability strategy. In fact, it's a fascinating report that covers issues from the use of high-definition IoT-connected network cameras to combat crime, to early detection of disease with advanced medical imaging and diagnostics, 3D vision equipment for robotics and nanoimprint technology used in semiconductors. This is a fascinating review of the technology-driven aspects of the way we live now and a glimpse into the future; enabling such advanced technology will of course influence the way we live, and probably even how long we live and how healthy we will be as we live. I often think the issue with materiality is that we try to put it into predefined boxes of things we can precisely count - emissions, waste, employee turnover. It's the things we have most difficulty counting - like the impact of medical imaging on people's lives - that are the most far-reaching. Canon clearly has its finger on the pulse of these very important directions that drive sustainable development.

Stuart Poore added: "Use your insights and intelligence. Don't over complicate it. Lead the debates as you perceive them rather than leaning too heavily on tool kits and methodologies and frameworks that various standards bodies publish. There is a place for those but trust your intuition and knowledge. Based on that philosophy, we have been through a process of listening to our various stakeholders and were able to define a set of priorities that the Board signed off on which enabled us to make some progress."

Stuart will share stories and examples of how the Canon methodology worked in practice and the challenges, debates and learning along the way. I am looking forward to hearing more. I hope you will join us on 27th February.

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 

Elaine will be chairing  the edie Conference on Smarter Sustainability Reporting  in London on 27th February 2018  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Wizard of Sustainability

Dare Ilori has journeyed from the bottom up to become Merlin Entertainments’ Group Head of Sustainability and ‘Wizard’ of Sustainability Performance and Progress. Dare has been in his current role for three years, focusing on sustainability strategy, carbon reporting, supply chain management, energy efficiency, waste management and regulatory compliance.

Dare will be joining me at the edie Smarter Sustainability Conference on 27th February 2018 and will present his experience and guidance in one of the morning breakout sessions which is a deep dive discussion on environmental impacts reporting.

Merlin Entertainments is the largest European entertainments company operating in Europe. Merlin runs 125 attractions in 25 countries across four continents with brands that include LEGOLAND Parks,  SEA LIFE aquariums and the iconic Madam Tussauds that operates with many attractions across the globe.

Can't resist digressing, as I recall many exciting visits to Madame Tussauds in London as a child and later with my own kids. You may not know that Madame Tussaud (German wax modeler Marie Tussaud (1761-1850)) founded the first Wax Museum on Baker Street in London in 1835, after learning the art of creating lifelike figures out of wax during the French Revolution, claiming to have made her first ones directly from the heads of the recently guillotined.

Merlin operates many more fun places such as Alton Towers (popular spot for our annual day trips when I was a schoolgirl), Teh Coca-Cola London Eye, Blackpool Tower (another nostalgic brand for me, as all my family summer holidays as a child were spent in Blackpool) and more modern attractions such as Shrek's Adventure in London. So you know that sustainability can be fun, but in a business such as this, it has to be extra super fun! And that was my impression after talking with Dare Ilori, who I am looking forward to meeting in person at the edie Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference in London next year.

"I graduated as an industrial chemist 17 years ago with a great passion for environmental chemistry. In 2007, I enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Waste and Environmental Management and graduated in 2009. In the same year, I joined the waste and recycling department at Thorpe Park Resort which is owned and managed by Merlin Entertainments. Initially the role was to manage waste and recycling only, but within a year, the role expanded to include other environmental management activities (waste management, energy management, sustainability reporting and environmental management system) for the park. 
I realised that the future of sustainability is that these aspects need to be integrated into the management of the business itself. Over time, employers may no longer be able to recruit an energy manager, a recycling & waste manager, an environmental management systems manager, carbon manager and others separately. 
Not long after that, and based on the interest we generated through a range of activities to improve our environmental performance at Thorpe Park Resorts, I expanded my responsibilities to include all of Merlin Entertainments' strategy and environmental approach for all our sites at a corporate level in 2015. 
Businesses nowadays must factor environmental impacts at a strategic level where knowledge and learnings can be shared and implemented across multiple sites. This increases both effectiveness and efficiencies."

This is a super example of bottom-up sustainability, starting by proving the benefits from the ground up, and demonstrating that advantage to one business unit has benefit to the wider organisation. Dare Ilori has driven engagement at a site-by-site level, with each operation getting involved and delivering results.

For the Group as a whole, Dare manages the Green Capex fund; capital expenditure designed to support investment in environmental initiatives to help Merlin continue to reduce its carbon footprint while at the same time deliver operational savings. As a way of managing energy spend on sites, the company use internal metric of energy spend per £1m revenue to identify sites that will need to be prioritized for energy audits and reduction focus. The Green Capex fund has been instrumental in delivering recommended projects from energy efficiency audits. Some of the projects delivered with the Green Capex fund are installation of LED lights at Sydney Cluster Australia, chiller optimization at Sealife Istanbul, solar powered cars at Junior Driving School LEGOLAND Florida and variable speed drive on air handling units at Madame Tussauds London.

In other areas, Merlin strives to Be a Force for Good and operates several programs designed to positively impact marine and wildlife conservation, support charitable causes for children and ensure accessibility at all its venues. Merlin's Magic Wand, for example, is a charity that makes it possible for thousands of seriously ill, disabled and disadvantaged children to enjoy a memorable day out at a Merlin attraction every year or provide Magic Spaces for those too sick to experience an attraction firsthand.

In terms of reporting, Merlin Entertainments has opted to report its scope 1 and 2 carbon performance within its annual report and accounts.

I am looking forward to hearing his more perspectives and the challenges he has faced and overcome in order to help Merlin Entertainments deliver business and environmental objectives. We will also aim to hear Dare’s view regarding scope 3 emission reporting by Merlin Entertainments Plc.

Will we see you there?

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 

Elaine will be chairing  the edie Conference on Smarter Sustainability Reporting  in London on 27th February 2018  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Santa Claus Inc. 2017 Harmonized Report

It's that warm fuzzy, jingle-belly, goodwilly time of the year again when we preview Santa's annual ESG disclosure. Santa has been reporting now for almost 2,000 years. It's amazing how Santa manages to keep reporting fresh, relevant, topical and most of all, impactful. Just like all those other companies that report year after year. Check out Santa's prior reports:

πŸŽ…Santa's 2016 Material Topics Report
πŸŽ…Santa’s 2015 SDG Report 
πŸŽ…Santa's 1750th Sustainability Report 2014
πŸŽ…Santa's First G4 Comprehensive Sustainability Report 2013 
πŸŽ…Santa's First Integrated Financial and CSR Report 2012
πŸŽ…Santa's 1,747th 2011 Annual CSR Report
πŸŽ…Santa's 1,746th 2010 Annual CSR Report
πŸŽ…Santa's 1,745th 2009 Annual CSR Report

Santa Claus Inc. 2017 Harmonized Report
πŸŽ… Leadership Message πŸŽ…

Dear Stakeholders,

I am delighted present you once again with Santa Claus Inc.'s annual disclosure of everything related to sustainability, making the world a better place, saving the planet, improving the quality of life, especially mine, and improving the impacts of business in society. In the true Christmas spirit of goodwill, sharing and joy to all women, men and children, I have decided that this should be a harmonized report, encompassing the best of all the sustainability frameworks that we know in one seamlessly blended, uniquely jargon-ridden, multi-platform report that will meet the demands of investors (YAY! Love investors) and all other stakeholders, unless they blink. I know this is venturing into ground hitherto uncharted by humankind and that, despite years of harmonization hype, aligning frameworks has never been anything more than a smokescreen for different organizations to pursue different dreams and funders. But Santa has always boldly aimed to go where all Santa lookalikes and CSR Managers have never trodden. I am therefore delighted to share our harmonized account of our value-creating, investor-ready, multi-stakeholder driven 2017 sustainability net positive impact report on all our capitals in all their resplendent transparency. 

2017 was not a particularly harmonious year for Santa. Troubled by fallout from Climate Change, Trumpification, Brexitisation, Falsefactsification, SDGification of every problem known to man (and woman), and the fact that Santa has STILL not been invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show, for the first time in more than a century, we did not hit our quadruple net profit target. In 2017, we grew toy-distribution value only by 563% and profits increased only by 99.5%, making this a year in which Santa had to tighten his belt. In fact, Santa tightened his belt so much that he was rushed to Grey Sloane Memorial Hospital ER where Meredith Grey had to perform an emergency heart transplant. The problem was finding a heart big enough to hold all Santa's love for the children of the world, which simply wasn't possible. Therefore, as Meredith is so creative and resourceful, she transplanted Santa's heart with four new hearts, making Santa even more loving, generous and positive-spirited than before. As a result, Santa immediately ordered double toys for all the world's children, which caused a further drop in profits and heart failure in three of the four new hearts. To resolve this problem, Meredith fitted 3D printed hearts to replace the failed hearts and created a medical history phenomenon in the process. Santa is now charging a special Santa Heart-4-Heart Viewing fee payable to the "I Love Santa " Fund and has raised $4 billion to date.  In addition, Santa has created a "Perform Emergency Heart Surgery on Santa" Donation App, modeled on a similar educational app, and this has already been downloaded more than 2 million times. The moral of this story is: Watch Grey's Anatomy. You can never have too many hearts.

But 2017 did bring some nuggets of optimism. On Sept. 4, Kensington Palace announced that Prince William and Duchess Kate were expecting a sibling for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. That makes three toddlers who now require special Santa gifts. Santa loves the Royal Children, though finding toys for such privileged children is always a headache at Christmas. In 2017, Santa decided to be true to the Chopra Center's Law of Giving and Receiving where it says: Each time I meet someone, I will silently wish them happiness, joy, and laughter.  So, this is what Santa is getting for the Royal Children this year and for the Royal siblings en route. And let's not forget of course that Prince Harry has announced his entry into show business with his engagement to Meghan Markle, so no doubt the pitter-patter of tiny feet will be sounding through more corridors of the royal residences before long - so silently wishing them happiness, joy and laughter will be a smart strategy going forward. But in fact, the betrothal of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is a tremendous commercial opportunity. Already you can buy incredible Harry and Meghan merchandise online and in all the best stores. This is brilliant. Santa, never one to miss a hint of profit potential, is now thinking of announcing his own marriage in order to be able to sell Santa Wedding Memorabilia. Santa doesn't want to get married, so this is a double opportunity. In a few months' time, we can announce Santa Wedding Cancellation Memorabilia. The Royal Family is always a good source of inspiration.

Also in 2017 we decided to renew our mission and values. Here are the old ones we developed in 2011.

To perpetuate the love of Santa

Faith in Santa
Disabled-Access Chimneys
Elf Emancipation
Reindeer Rights
Children's Universal Right to Gifts
Santa World Domination 

In the interests of brevity, we have decided to reduce our values to two.

Santa World Domination and Sustainability
Santa World Domination and Sustainability

In this way, we can use our new values to more effectively guide us in our mission and enjoy all the fuzzy feelings that are generated when people hear us talking about sustainability. From now on, focusing on Santa World Domination means that we will no longer be at the mercy of Reindeer Freedom Fighters, Elf Emancipation Activists or Teresa May's Brexit negotiation strategy. In fact, as a result of the UK Brexit vote, we have moved all our toy assembly centers out of the UK and transferred them to other parts of the Eurozone. If you are a kid in the UK, you will now receive toys saying "FabriquΓ© en France" or "Hergestellt in Deutschland" together with a language pack for reading the instructions in another language. But don't worry, all the carbon emissions generated by long-hauling toys across Europe will be offset by funds generously donated by Berlitz.

Santa's Materiality Matrix
In this 2017 harmonized report, we have recreated our new materiality matrix, recognizing that our GRI, SASB, IR, Future Fit and UNGC Reporting framework must now appeal to shareholders, stakeholders, landholders, smallholders, cardholders, freeholders, pen-holders, upholders and with-holders. As a result, we completed a deep-dive materiality process, starting with a thorough scan of the entire universe of sustainability topics using advanced data-mining algorithms powered by Datamaran, and this yielded a list of 3,564 relevant topics for consideration. After 23 elf and reindeer focus groups, and of course our assumptions about what's important to our stakeholders, we managed to whittle this down to just 4 topics that represent our most material impacts on the world and the most significant assumed concerns of stakeholders, and taking into account the SDGs as well. These are:
  • Santa's well-being
  • World happiness especially in Lapland
  • Elimination of everything bad in the world including hunger, poverty, sickness, lying, cheating and Santa counterfeits
  • Free distribution of money to everyone who needs it especially Santa
Based on this list of material topics, we have formulated a new Sustainability Strategy. It's quite a simple one. It's Santa-centric. If Santa is not at the center, it doesn't count. We will progress actions that advance Santa centricity and provide solutions to the material topics above. An initial step will be to build a wall around Lapland to restrict immigration of unwanted elves and then we will declare war on a few countries. In this way, we will make beneficial Santa Domination far more sustainable for current and future generations.

New Year's Giving - the UNGC Way
From 2018, we have adopted a new approach to giving, modeled on the super creative UN Global Compact new plan for 2018. As you may know, the UNGC is now offering two new ways of confirming support for the largest global responsible business initiative. You can become a new-style first-class Participant and pay lots of money, or you can become a second-class Signatory and pay less lots of money. What you cannot do is stay as you are and pay no money. This is a wonderful approach to giving. All the 8,000 plus business signatories of the UNGC will now have to pass on a part of their bank balance to the UN account or be reduced to oblivion, wiped forever off the face of the UNGC website. Santa thinks this is a wonderful approach to giving for 2018. Therefore, effective next year, those who are eligible to receive a gift from Santa will first have to register as a Receiver or an Observer. As a Receiver, you get to pay lots of money and receive a toy that you can play with anywhere you like. As an Observer, you get to pay less lots of money, you get a toy but you are not actually allowed to play with it outside your own home. If you do not register, and/or do not pay money, all the gifts you have previously received will be removed and destroyed and you will never get them back. This is a modern way of spreading the Christmas spirit and enables everyone to enjoy the goodness in the world, for a fee. In this way, Santa will be able to continue to enjoy the lifestyle to which he is accustomed and the UNGC will continue to be able to hold conferences and meetings and have a blast on Black Friday.

New App for iPhone X: SantaPay
All of us here at Santa Claus Inc. have been impressed with the development of Apple Pay. Apple Pay transactions are becoming exceedingly common, and parting with your money has never been easier. Having discovered the benefits of Apple Pay, Santa saw a clear opportunity to develop a way for people around the globe to painlessly support world salvation, environmental sustainability and Santa Domination. With the new Santa Pay app specially designed for iPhone X, no matter what you buy or where you buy it or from whom, a portion of your payment goes directly to the Santa Retirement Fund. In an unprecedented mega-deal with Apple, all sales of the new iPhone X will contain a special spiritual Santa Pay message, advising the new iPhone X owner that all toys purchased this Christmas through Apple Pay will automatically create a double transaction, whereby the equivalent value of an additional toy will be debited in parallel to Santa Pay. Sums accruing to Santa Pay will be delivered to the tax-free Santa Retirement Fund, which, in 2017, reached a total of $932 billion, enough to fund the acquisition of a private island in the Caribbean so that Santa can live out the remainder of his days in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, due to climate change, the island Santa had in mind is now partly submerged in the Caribbean Sea. In addition, therefore, to stocking up on mince pies and Hallmark Christmas movie DVDs to enjoy during his retirement, Santa is investing in land reclamation technology, a desalination plant and several snorkels. 

A new Santa Blockchain Initiative
As the blockchain economy is starting to gain ground, Santa has been considering how best to leverage blockchain for the benefit of children everywhere. Unfortunately, blockchain is so complex that Santa hasn't quite got to grips with it yet. His first attempt to create a blockchain failed when the block fell off the sleigh and the reindeer ate the chain. The second attempt was equally unsuccessful. The block was chipped and the chain slipped off and got caught around Santa's ankle, causing him to fall and break three bones in his foot. As a result, the Santa Claus Inc. Lost-Time Injury rate tripled in 2017 (The incident in which fourteen elves were found dead following a fire in the toy factory was not recorded in 2017, as there was some doubt as to whether the cause of death was actually the fire, or a suicide pact among senior elves. Elves were protesting against distribution of bitcoins instead of real toys at Christmas, reducing the need for toy assembly, quality control and distribution and therefore reducing several elf jobs. Despite attempts to reassure the senior elves that job security would not be affected by the introduction of bitcoins, many elves suffered severe depression and set fire to both the factory and themselves. However, Santa was not overly worried, as the elf headcount has now reduced sufficiently to avoid significant layoffs in 2018.)

According to Santa, bitcoins are the new toys, and children of the world can collect bitcoins and trade them, thereby offering children great flexibility and choice for their personal entertainment and leisure time while having a positive impact on the environment. Unfortunately, the first 500,000 bitcoins distributed were triple-traded by cryptocurrency-savvy kids who circumvented the blockchain. This resulted in the market being flooded with invalid bitcoins and ultimately crashing - reducing the value of all bitcoins to little more than zero. Many bitcoin traders lost their jobs, their homes and their dignity. Several bitcoin trading houses closed down and the U.S. federal government intervened with a massive bailout. People were evicted from homes they bought with bitcoins. A senior commentator likened this to the economic crisis of 2008 and blamed greed, excess and selfishness.

Santa was initially devastated but eventually realized that bitcoin fraud is simply another capitalist scam that forces people to realize that family, friends, love, harmony and joy to the world are actually more important than amassing great virtual wealth. Therefore, Santa reverted to supplying real toys distributed by real elves and real reindeer to real kids in the real world. Of course, he kept a few bitcoins back for himself, just in case. Bitcoins and blockchains may be a little before their time, but Santa plans to be ahead of the game when they come back to dominate our economy.

Reporting on the capitals
As this is a harmonized report, we include a special feature for the very first time, covering our impact on the capitals. We are not entirely sure that this is a sensible way to report performance, nor does Santa think it represents a consistent way of presenting value creation. However, as modern, forward-thinking, good-life-appreciating stakeholders like to talk in capitals, we decided to fall in line. 

Financial Capital: This represents the financial value we create for our shareholders and communities. Of course, as you all know Santa Claus Inc. is a form of social enterprise because we perform our main function of disseminating joy in the world through the toys we provide for children free of charge. Therefore, we do not have revenues, we do not pay taxes and we do not manage working capital or cash flow. Indirectly, we contribute to improving financial capital by making people happy. Happy people are more motivated at work and therefore make more money for the world economy. 
Manufacturing capital: We do not have any manufacturing capital as all the toys we distribute are manufactured by someone else. Our elves do some toy assembly work, but this is mainly reserved for elf interns who we do not pay. In lieu of payment, all interns are treated to a personal meeting with Santa each year and can include working at Santa Claus Inc. on their resume, thereby significantly enhancing their future employability.
Human capital: We do not have any human capital as all our work is performed by elves and reindeer. We did once think of hiring humans but most did not want to relocate to Lapland, and several did not have chimney sweeping skills. The value we create in terms of human capital at a global level is indirect: through the educational toys we distribute to children, they become more intelligent, well-rounded individuals that have enhanced potential to make the world a better place. Of course, we do have a plan to stop distributing toy rifles, fidget spinners and waitress uniforms.
Social and relationship capital: Our social and relationship capital is expressed in the positive partnerships that Santa forges with toy suppliers everywhere in the world. Santa's ability to persuade toy-makers to contribute their goods for free every year represents an unprecedented level of social capital that results in happy kids everywhere. (Except for the ones that asked for iPhone X's in their Christmas stocking. Even Santa draws the line at toys that retail at more than $1000).
Intellectual capital: We don't have intellectual capital and frankly we don't need it. In any case, we aren't entirely sure how to measure it. We just continue to spread joy and goodwill - for that we need a big heart and not a very big brain. Santa did once consider joining MENSA but they refused to approve his application after he responded "ice cream" to the question: "What is the most important food on earth that no-one can live without?"
Natural capital: Our impact on natural capital is minimal. Over several years, we have reduced our carbon footprint through use of renewable reindeer power for our sleighs, low-methane diets for our reindeer and carpooling for our elves. We only use water from recycled melted local Lapland ice and we recycle all our packaging and other organic waste. Our bathrooms use dry-flush and our faucets are metered. Therefore, our natural capital is hardly noticeable and there is nothing terribly interesting to disclose.

Ah well, so much for reporting on all the capitals. I am sure you found that very enlightening. Not. However, at least we cannot be accused of not joining the integrated reporting revolution rumor.

Business development - Santa diversification
In 2017, Santa developed several new business lines designed to ensure the Santa brand continues to be top of mind and top of credit card. A few of our new sustainable business lines are just getting started:

Santa Eco Spa and Relaxation Resort: Relax in an authentic, elegant, secluded getaway on Santa's private eco-island in the Caribbean. Immerse yourself in nature in a fully carbon-offset environment where the locals pamper to your every need (unless you are sparing with the tips). Whether you are looking for a sumptuous spa experience, expansive green golf courses, exhilarating tennis, visits to a live volcano (don't forget to buy insurance) or spending a quiet evening watching Hallmark Christmas movies on DVD, Santa's Eco Resort has something for you. Santa personally greets each guest and models the latest Santa fashions for you to purchase for your next Christmas Party.  

Santa Cookies: Lose weight with a new line of delicious Santa Cookies that reverse the metabolic process of calorie burning in your body. Instead of gaining weight, Santa's cookies actually cause the reverse effect - the more cookies you eat, the more weight you lose. The cookie has been developed by an army of Santa elf scientists and nutritionists after years of dedicated research in an attempt to fulfill the most wished-for Christmas gift - getting slim. Now, with Santa's Cookies, available in a range of flavors (charcoal, sour milk, toad's finger, bat droppings), you can consume cookies till you burst and still be able to slip easily into last year's skinny jeans. With recipes under patent, Santa's Cookies will revolutionize weight loss and finally put an end to the growing obesity epidemic that has been plaguing the first world since McDonald's invented fries and food companies learned to drown food's natural flavor in sugar.

Santa in Shondaland: Santa has signed up to star in two new Shondaland series: How to Get Away with Murder while you are Delivering Toys and Santa's Anatomy. Both will air in 2018, and while we are not allowed to share any spoilers, suffice it to say that the first is a storyline about Santa delivering toys to the White House, and the second is X rated.

Sexual Harassment - Santa under fire
Like most of today's male celebrities and prominent political figures, Santa too has been under fire for alleged sexual misconduct. Following a complaint by a (now retired) female elf of inappropriate personal contact and sexist language by Santa, a further 4,534 female elves have now registered complaints with the Santa Ethical Conduct Authority for misconduct between the years 1843 and 2013. Santa maintains that he has the highest respect for all his elves, male and female, and has no recollection of any inappropriate behavior on his part. Santa apologizes if any of the elves got the wrong impression at any time as he would never wish to offend. Litigation is ongoing but in the meantime, Santa expects to continue delivering toys and making children happy. He is hoping that, if he continues with business as usual, it will all just go away. The fact that the new hashtag #MeToo:Elf is trending on Twitter might indicate that this strategy has some holes in it.

Safety first: toys we delisted this year
In an ongoing effort to ensure the toys Santa distributes are safe for all children, we have taken bold steps to delist the following toys from our distribution this year:

  • Motorized alligators with moving jaws and real teeth (423 toddlers now only have nine fingers)
  • Doctor sets with real opioids (the grown-ups kept playing with it)
  • High-flying drones with magnifying photo lenses (too many complaints from neighbors who left bedroom curtains open)
  • High-bouncing trampolines (85 toddlers reported sighted in outer space) 
  • Build the Eiffel Tower with matchsticks construction kit (Eiffel Tower kept burning down during construction)
Diversity in the Workplace
This year, Santa introduced a new approach to diversity in the workplace. Neurodiversity is a competitive advantage  says the Harvard Business Review. Neurodiverse people bring different considerations to the workplace and seriously boost innovation. When looking for neurodiverse elves, we found that we had to adapt our regular recruitment procedures. Now, instead of having elf candidates take a multiple-choice test, similar to the GRI Standards Exam, which is a pretty useless predictor of their ability to perform Santa's outstanding work, we actually get to know the neurodiverse elves and encourage them to feel welcomed and express themselves freely. So far, we have recruited 4 neurodiverse elves and they are already making a positive contribution and we were delighted to feature in Diversity Inc.'s list of top 500 neurodiverse workplaces for 2017. In fact, we are now considering expanding our neurodiverse recruiting practices to all potential elf employees. Perhaps there might be some advantage in seeing all potential employees as individuals rather than as numbers on a resume. You never know. We can only try. 
Recognition from our Stakeholders 
As usual, this year, we received far more awards than we are able to mention in this report. Suffice it to say that the most welcome ones included a cash payment to the Santa Retirement Fund.

Feedback on this Report 
We will be happy to receive your feedback on this report, as long as it's positive.

So, until we meet again.....

We Wish You and Everyone in the World a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year 


elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 

Elaine will be chairing  the edie Conference on Smarter Sustainability Reporting  in London on 27th February 2018 

Related Posts with Thumbnails