Sustainability reporting: The skills every CRS professional needs

Claudine Blamey, chair of the ICRS and head of sustainability and stewardship at the Crown Estate asks what skills CRS (corporate responsibility and sustainability) professionals need to keep pace with the changes in sustainability reporting.

I’ve yet to meet more than a handful of CRS professionals who claim to enjoy the process of sustainability reporting. Mention it in a group of your peers and you’re likely to be met with a collective and knowing sigh. It is a challenging task, especially to new reporters who believe that the rewards for their endeavours will be a healthy and enthusiastic readership for the finished article. If only that were the case.

This misperception often arises because its easy to focus on the output, the finished report, and not the process, which is altogether more valuable for its ability to engage the business and help it make better decisions.  Only by identifying and measuring impacts can a business hope to improve its performance and it is this fundamental function that lies at the heart of the reporting process. 

Core skill

That reporting is a core skill for CRS professionals is without doubt, covering as it does all five of the ICRS’ core competences, but as reporting matures and as businesses more readily accept the fundamental importance of sustainability to long term success, the skills of the reporter need to evolve too.

Integrated reporting means that sustainability reporting now has to hold its own in the world of finance. Our job as CRS professionals is to understand enough of that world to not only ensure a smooth transition, but to also engage and secure the commitment of the finance team to integrate, not just the reporting, but the thinking too.  And of course, having achieved that, there will come a point when we’ll also need to learn how to let go and let others take the lead. We’re not there yet, but as we chart our course, it needs to be a skill we’re all ready to learn.

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