"Alexa, How Am I Doing?" - Sustainability Measurement and Reporting

Blog Post created by libby.cheney Champion on Jun 30, 2016

I received an Amazon Echo (@amazonecho) as a Mother's Day gift from my husband. Alexa (a tiny woman who has taken up residence, evidently, inside my Echo) has become for me the fountain of all knowledge. It's like having a crystal ball at my fingertips.

Today, after an inspiring conversation on sustainability metrics with a friend over coffee, I posed this question (verbatim) to Alexa:  "How am I doing?". After a moment's hesitation, she responded, "Sorry, I couldn't find the answer to your question." Well, of course! If we don't know where we are headed, how can we know what progress is being made? It is a fruitless exercise. And thus is the current state of sustainability measurement and reporting.

What many companies do today when building their sustainability report is look in the rearview mirror to identify the year's actions and initiatives that look, smell and taste like 'sustainability' and then build glossy multi-page reports with splendid pictures and precious little in the way of reporting on progress to an ultimate goal.

What's a better idea? Each company picks three big, audacious and strategic goals that will allow the human beings in their operating orbit (think neighbors, communities, shareholders and others) to thrive. Progress toward those three goals will be measured and reported. Here's a chaser - companies can stop spending the multi-millions of dollars annually on sustainability reporting (with apologies to my friends in the biz who will be forced to adapt their livelihood if my idea catches on). The Annual Report can be the home for this new sustainability reporting so that investors and shareholders can assess a company's sustainability progress alongside its balance sheet and other financial performance.


Cross-posted on Linked In