Can reporting be innovative?

Can reporting be innovative?

Since the launch of our SustainAbilities plan we’ve been on a journey to collect information and data to help communicate our impacts and evidence the progress we’ve made. Over the last three years we’ve improved the systems we use to collect non-financial information to enable us to evolve our reporting and support decision making.

This year, for the first time, we asked PwC to provide an independent assessment of nine of the measures we included in our latest SustainAbilities Progress Update report. This is part of our commitment to demonstrating transparency in tracking and reporting our non-financial information.

Data and reporting probably aren’t the most interesting subjects but we think there’s huge potential to use data to drive positive actions which help us achieve our goals. As we evolve our reporting there’s a need to build trust and we want to share the lessons we’ve learnt along the way.

Interserve insight report

Inspiring trust in data

We’ve been working with the team at PwC to apply their ‘Inspiring trust through insight’ method. This helps provide our stakeholders – our people, customers, suppliers, government, investors and the public – with an independent assessment of our approach to tracking nine non-financial performance indicators. The aim of this is to provide more information on the data we present so they can better understand our successes and challenges and make a more informed assessment of our progress.

The Insight Report provides an independent assessment of maturity according to a framework covering: measurement certainty, use of established reporting frameworks/standards, information integrity, consistency, transparency and validation. Overall our approach was considered ‘maturing’ by PwC.

See for yourself

You can explore the interactive tool to find out more about these measures, what they mean and how data is collected and reported.

It’s not easy…

As you might expect, it isn’t always easy to gather vast datasets where there aren’t established systems in place and to make these available around the world, while ensuring people have the ability to check and interpret what this means for the business or the actions that should be taken as a result. Some of the challenges we’ve faced include finding definitions that are flexible enough to apply across diverse markets but specific enough to be comparable, and in combining datasets from different systems in different countries without losing the business context that explains patterns and trends.

We’ve had the most success where we’ve been able to build on established management systems and formalised methods of data collection. Using data sources that are linked to financial transactions such as energy consumption and procurement records, and where we have an established culture of reporting – such as the recording of health & safety incidents. Whilst other social performance indicators have been more challenging to measure due to the broad scope of programmes, use of less formalised systems and greater reliance on individuals to self-report information.

…But there are benefits

As we build more trend data we’re starting to see the visible benefits of our efforts – from understanding seasonal patterns in resource use to evidencing links between workforce training in core skills and a reduction in waste. We have a broader picture of our operations and how they are changing over time and believe that sharing this information in a digestible format will help support more informed decision making across the Group.

Where do we go next?

We’re pleased to be among the first organisations to provide this type of insight into our reporting and demonstrate our commitment to acting with transparency. The demand for a broader range of performance indicators to measure and report risk and performance is growing, and as these improve stakeholders will be able to make more informed decisions. As well as improving our reporting controls, we’re looking at opportunities to use big data and geospatial information to bring our impacts to life through maps. As to how innovative our reporting can become…watch this space!

Laura Spiers

Laura Spiers is Interserve’s Group Sustainability Manager. She is tasked with making the Interserve SustainAbilities plan a reality and brings a range of experience working in-house and as a consultant for a range of public and private organisations across sustainability topics.