ICRS Fellows Hub: Creating value through reporting and disclosures Event

Creating value through reporting and disclosures

Reporting and disclosures – the phrase that strikes fear into the heart of even the most seasoned of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability practitioners. The level of interest, scrutiny, and risk around external reporting has shifted significantly in the last decade. With the introduction of legislation, organisations are moving from disclosing against voluntary frameworks like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to the more comprehensive, mandatory frameworks found in regulation such as the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).  

Some might see these increased disclosures as a burden that shifts time and resource away from delivering programmes and making change. Others see them as an opportunity to engage a wider stakeholder group and showcase achievements. Is reporting a valuable tool, or a compliance exercise?  

To tackle these questions and more, the ICRS Fellows Hub held a discussion with Thea Sherer, Director of Sustainability at Springer Nature, a leading research, health, educational and professional publisher, and Georgina Shiplee, an expert ESG reporting consultant from the sustainability agency Flag on how reporting can be used to create value for an organisation. 

Why Sustainability Reporting Matters 

The business case for mandatory reporting is clear, but this is only one part of the picture. When asked how and why companies find benefit to external reporting, our speakers provided the following list:  

  • Managing risk – supporting the companies in recognising, managing, and disclosing environmental and social risk 
  • Building competitive advantage 
  • Enabling performance tracking over time 
  • Supporting stakeholder engagement 
  • Driving long term value creation 
  • Driving revenue growth 
  • Attracting and engaging investors 
  • Anticipating and meeting regulatory compliance 

What are the incoming trends?  

Georgie also noted some key trends that she saw related to the future of reporting: 

  • Digitalisation – especially through AI and technology – to facilitate data gathering, consolidation and data quality in complex organisations and across supply chains 
  • Integrated reporting – bringing together financial and sustainability reporting 
  • Continuing regulatory evolution – anticipating and adapting to new requirements 

How reporting creates value for Springer Nature 

To bring this to life in a real organisation, Thea provided an overview of Springer Nature’s approach and shared some of their drivers and benefits: 

  • Supporting the organisation’s mission and purpose 
  • Anticipating being ahead of the curve with regard to disclosure regulations 
  • As a powerful tool for supporting and driving staff engagement 
  • Providing the means for responding to the plethora of requests for ESG information 

Challenges that Thea noted were: 

  • Data availability, quality, and infrastructure – Springer Nature has needed to create systems from scratch to identify and collect data (with an initial focus on carbon data) from multiple systems and in varied formats 
  • Creating systems for meeting the requirements of CSRD 
  • A potential risk to the mission-driven nature of sustainability for the organisation as it starts to be seen as a regulatory compliance issue rather than a strategic imperative that delivers against organisational purpose. 

It’s clear that reporting and disclosures are becoming part and parcel of a practitioner’s remit, with challenges and opportunities therein. What is also clear is that by seeing reporting through the lens of value creation, practitioners can maximise the impact of reporting, turning what risks becoming a compliance exercise into one that engages employees, investors, and the public in an organisation’s sustainability story.   


Springer Nature’s Sustainable Business Report 2023