Low carbon sustainability reporting…

Image courtesy of quacktaculous on Flickr

ABB hasn’t printed a Sustainability report for several years. Not my choice; a cost-cutting exercise beyond my control.

How, I wondered, could I conclude any meeting without leaving behind a beautifully bound reprise of our sustainability performance?

Little did I know that this cut would put us in the vanguard of low carbon sustainability reporting.  ABB’s sustainability review is available online as a PDF and more recently also as an ‘interactive (fly/make/slice and dice your own) version’.

So, apart from the production process, what’s in the report?

Well, a company’s sustainability performance review is traditionally a way to communicate to stakeholders on all sorts of topics, including environmental and health and safety metrics, together with energy use, human rights and supply chain performance.   It can  also be a vehicle for a little bit of self-congratulation – playing up the pros and glossing over the cons.

I don’t like that.

I want ABB’s sustainability reporting to be clear, transparent and honest – and informative.

As a first step, I want ABB to tick all the boxes in terms of complete and transparent reporting according to the Global Reporting Initiative. (Even so, you can’t imagine how perverse and marginal some ratings agencies can be about what you include in LA7 and what they think you should include in LA7).  Life’s too short.

Then I want to produce a ‘road movie’ – a description of the journey of ABB’s contribution to a more sustainable world.  We try to give a fair and honest commentary on the issues we face and what the successes and failures have been during the snapshot that is a year.

And finally we have to accept we will never please all the people all of the time.

Given the nature of ever-increasing stakeholder expectations versus the ability of a company to decide what limited resources to deploy on which improvement projects,  we must do the best we can.  We probably won’t ever arrive at the destination, because the destination moves over time.  But stakeholders have a reasonable expectation that we can describe what we think is important to them and to our business, and how we can make meaningful improvements. Our bottom line is  to be honest and clear about what’s going well and what is not.

So please have a look at our low-carbon report and let me have your comments here….

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About the author

Adam Roscoe

I am the Head of Sustainability Affairs at ABB. In a previous life I trained as a journalist and worked as one for eight years. My interests outside work include cycling, cooking, current affairs, history, Daft Punk and writing.
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