It is needless to say that there is probably a limited audience who fully reads a responsible business report cover to cover, yet they are an important component of responsible business in terms of transparency and better enabling organisations to be held to account. This is important in terms of reputation, building trust and the communication of priorities and action to a variety of stakeholders.

Stakeholders may not be interested in all the issues but they will hone in on the ones that are most important to them. The report can be an important and highly useful reference when evidencing responsible business credentials; whether that be with investors, clients, customers, new talent or the people currently working within the organisation.  

Its fair to say the quality of reports does vary - noting the temptation for cherry picking and at worst greenwashing. That is why reporting standards play such an important role along with other best practice guidance, as laid out by bodies such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN Global Compact.  We also see consistency of reporting being increasingly driven by legislative disclosure requirements such as with UK requirements for pay gap, green-house gas emissions and modern slavery reporting. 

Best practice reporting includes: qualitative and quantitative disclosures relating to the material issues as defined by the organisation and its stakeholders; an amount of stakeholder voice; reporting on trends; the setting out of targets and longer term aspirations; disclosing the challenges and short falls as well as the successes; plus assurance and verification.  The report should also be accessible i.e. readily digestible and understandable to those not familiar with either the business or the sector. 

Burges Salmon has announced the firm's latest responsible business report. Why not take a look and see how it measures up? You can access here: Responsible Business Report | Burges Salmon (