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How to Jump-Start Your ESG Reporting Journey

ESG
Tech & Transformation
Sustainability
Tips and software to walk you through starting an ESG reporting process
5 min read
AUTHOR:

Abhay Krishna

Director of Value Management
Published: August 2, 2022
Last Updated: August 3, 2022

If you are new to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting, you have a lot of decisions to make as investors demand more data, as raters and rankers evaluate your organization, and as your team explores how to comply with upcoming regulations. For most first-timers, this involves aligning with different ESG frameworks and standards, determining which topics are material to your organization, understanding how to source the data, and planning how to officially report on your ESG goals. And you might be short on resources—potentially without a dedicated ESG team—to take on this new initiative. 

You’re not alone. A recent survey by Workiva shows nearly two-thirds of senior decision-makers feel their organizations aren’t fully prepared to meet regulatory reporting mandates and goals for ESG. Some teams may not have enough staff or the right expertise, a report from Deloitte notes. As one finance leader told us recently, “We’re accountants, not engineers!” A director of reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, is most likely not an expert in completing a greenhouse gas inventory or knowing what data to collect to estimate CO2, CH4,  and N2O emissions.

The good news is you don’t have to build your ESG reporting strategy and processes without guidance. Workiva has worked with some of the world’s leading companies as they implemented our ESG reporting solution. We’ve taken those insights to develop ESG Path, a set of tools and resources embedded in our ESG solution to help you get on a sustainable path to success from Day One. 

Answering the second question will most likely require working with non-financial stakeholders you may not have engaged with in the past. This may include teams from facilities, fleet management, and engineering or procurement to source the environmental—or “E”—metrics. To acquire social, or “S” data, you need to enlist human resources, IT, legal, and other departments. And examining metrics for governance, or the “G” component, requires syncing with a cross-functional committee of leaders, management, and the board. Users of the Workiva ESG solution can take advantage of our data collection templates, which provide a guide to what data you need to collect and provide, with a controlled and auditable way to manage it.

For many companies that are beginning to integrate ESG standards, phase 1 may not involve any external disclosure at all. It might just be setting the foundation to collect data in a structured, controlled way and creating internal reports to gain confidence in the data and process. An external report may follow in phase 2. Other companies take a faster path, where phase 1 may be a two-pager on their websites with high-priority ESG metrics. Gradually, all companies build on top of their foundation to capture more data, align with more frameworks, and publish a more comprehensive level of ESG disclosure.

Starting your ESG journey begins by defining your ESG goals and developing the right processes to execute that strategy and get things done.

ESG Path within the Workiva platform includes a bundle of templates to help you take a self-directed approach to both of these critical steps. ESG Path helps you define your ESG reporting strategy, collect relevant data, and publish your report with user-friendly tools, questionnaires, on-screen guides, and templates aligned to leading ESG reporting frameworks and standards.

Here’s some guidance to help you get started, with tools from ESG Path: 

Define your ESG reporting strategy

 

ESG Work PlanPeer & Customer
Analysis:Data SecurityGHG EmissionsCustomer PrivacyDiversity & InclusionCustomer ACustomer BPeer APeer BMateriality AssessmentImportance to BusinessImportance to Society
  • ESG project work plan: Create a checklist and project timeline to manage your ESG reporting journey

  • Peer analysis and customer analysis: Benchmark against your peers’ ESG reports, and understand what your customers care about

  • Materiality assessment: Engage with stakeholders to assess the materiality of various topics on your own or with help from an advisory firm

  • Disclosure matrix: Select your industry, view a list of pre-loaded topics and metrics aligned with common reporting standards and frameworks, and select your disclosures

Execute your ESG reporting strategy

Based on the selections in your disclosure matrix, ESG Path automatically generates the tools you need to put your ESG strategy into action.


 

 

  • Data collection templates: Use our pre-configured data collection templates to gather your ESG metrics in accordance with common reporting standards and frameworks, collect supporting documentation, and generate an audit trail

  • ESG fact book: Consolidate all your collected data in one place—known as the ESG Fact Book in the Workiva platform—that serves as a single source of truth that gives you a real-time view into the collection status

  • Sample ESG report: Start your report outline with a pre-configured reporting template that includes the most commonly reported on sections, framework indices, and data that are dynamically linked to the ESG Fact Book

  • Sample investor and board decks: Get an accelerated start on heading into high-stakes presentations with a sample board deck you feel confident sharing

Workiva’s mission is to enable transparent reporting for a better world. ESG Path empowers organizations that don’t have a dedicated ESG team to establish a comprehensive and embedded ESG program. More importantly, teams can build on this starting point to set up a world-class foundation for investor-trusted, audit-ready reporting as their strategy evolves.

Creating a coherent and reliable process for producing in-depth, verifiable ESG reports doesn’t happen overnight. But you can fast-track your ESG reporting voyage with ESG Path from Workiva.

To see how your team can use the Workiva platform for audit-ready ESG reporting, request a demo.

About the Author
Abhay Krishna of Workiva
Abhay Krishna

Director of Value Management

As a Director of Value Management at Workiva, Abhay partners with customers to solve their most challenging reporting problems. His current focus is helping customers optimize ESG reporting. Prior to Workiva, Abhay was a consultant and a product manager helping clients design processes and build tools to improve their ways of working. He has been working on bringing digital technologies to solve ESG problems since 2016.

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