Best annual reports 2017

Best Practice - Sustainability

An A-Z list of best practice in annual sustainability reporting



ACS (Spain)

Panel's verdict: Sound

Rich content on a number of sustainability matters, served with nice illustrations, an extensive use of graphs, a clever construction.


Air Liquide (France)

Panel's verdict: Good

The very well structured Sustainable Development Report is more substantial than other sections and includes thorough human resource indicators à la française.


Akzonobel (Netherlands)

Panel's verdict: Excellent

An outstandingly well-controlled exercise in integrated reporting -and therefore a yardstick for many in and out of the industry. A very holistic approach to value creation is outlined, with a big chunk of the report dedicated to this at the front. Just as importantly, the conceptual approach is backed up with an integrated dashboard of KPIs, showing how all dimensions of value creation are carefully managed. A great example of a really strategic approach to material aspects, too.


Bonduelle (France)

Panel's verdict: Sound

In terms of data collection and general commitment, this French food-processing company is hard to beat. Besides, the report doesn’t lack actual objectives and has a very detailed stakeholder classification.


Casino (France)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Very clear about how the company ties CSR objectives to executive and management pay. Few listed firms report this so transparently, particularly for managers in different parts of the world. This is concrete evidence of embedding CSR. Though always not optimally structured, a high level of data disclosure.


Citycon (Finland)

Panel's verdict: Very good

When you drill down into more detailed reporting, you can see that sustainability is not just a facade, there is consistency. Materiality assessment is at the front of sustainability accounts, providing a useful picture of the context. Noteworthy: this is one of the few companies that make it clear about its reliance on community assets such as public transport to its locations.


CLP (Hong Kong)

Panel's verdict: Good

The way the report deals with the six capitals could be a role model for many, also because they are effectively used to structure the sustainability report. A huge amount of data is reported, yet quick overviews wouldn’t harm.


Danone (France)

Panel's verdict: Sound

The Alimentation Tree is a worthwhile effort to translate the vision. Responsible procurement supported with facts and figures. Attention to strategic resource cycles and Nature dashboard. Although a bit too light in content, the Integrated Report is nicely designed to convey the information.


DSM (Netherlands)

Panel's verdict: Excellent

In the materiality discussion, DSM makes it clear that the strategy update reflects improved understanding of business drivers and societal needs derived from stakeholder engagement. Annual materiality assessment seems therefore built as a fine-tuning process. Subsequently, they report finely on incremental shifts compared to the prior year.


EDP (Energias de Portugal) (Portugal)

Panel's verdict: Good

Very integrated approach with clear evidence of integrated thinking/management approach. Integrated presentation of targets and goals. Not only focused on environmental performance, but showing a good balance between economic, environmental and social targets, performance and management. Reassuring data on customer satisfaction, efforts to ensure ethics and maintain trust. Detailed risk appetite reporting for non-financial risks.


Enagas (Spain)

Panel's verdict: Good

A significant part of the report is organized around the creation of value for the various stakeholder audiences. The net result makes up a comprehensive report based on high-quality data. Company’s self-assessment on their own reporting is noteworthy. However, more conciseness and simplicity would have helped the reader.


Fortum (Finland)

Panel's verdict: Very good

The introduction on the digital version as well as the whole report strikes a very good balance between financial, environmental and social indicators. Environmental efficiency and Impacts on people and society and Distribution of added value are displayed straight away. Besides, you will also find statistics about customer satisfaction, supply-chain management et al.


Holmen (Sweden)

Panel's verdict: Good

The Swedish pulp and paper company knows how to do more (reporting) with less (pages, i.e. trees). The fact that the integrated report is very concise doesn’t prevent it from coming up with facts and figures about most major CSR aspects.


Inditex (Spain)

Panel's verdict: Good

Reports on sustainability in an integrated fashion –check e.g. the comprehensiveness about supply-chain management.


JKH (John Keells) (Sri Lanka)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Impressive level and consistency of integration, not easy for a diversified conglomerate, with an array of non-financial data. Very transparent and clear understanding of stakeholder relations and shared value creation. Valuable reporting on distribution of value added.


Konica Minolta (Japan)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Overall, this report does lots of things right. Management deserves credit for ambitious long-term environmental targets and robust reporting on environmental progress along with the more conventional reporting exercise on progress in growing its business. There are materiality matrices both for risks and opportunities, demonstrating that they really believe that getting ESG right is a growth driver. Konica Minolta accomplishes two things: it provides detail to show they are managing and measuring the right things and provides connectivity to show they understand how different dimensions of performance link together (e.g. useful Input/Output table).


Mitsubishi (Japan)

Panel's verdict: Good

Integrated dashboard to review performance. Clear materiality reporting, where it’s easy to grasp the process through outcomes –and this is not obvious for such a diversified business. Good insight into the need to create value for society and an assumption that creating financial profitability alone is not enough for long-term success.


Novo Nordisk (Denmark)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Has pioneered the integrated approach to reporting and should always deserve kudos for that, not least for keeping its conciseness. Though not articulated most optimally, a sense of shared value pervades the whole report. Non-financial statements remain a model, too.


Novozymes (Denmark)

Panel's verdict: Excellent

Certainly stands among the most successful examples of integrated reporting. Radical integration is obvious throughout, from the CEO letter to strategy to integrated notes for consolidated statements. Growth of business is linked to how products directly benefit society. Value for shareholders is therefore directly linked to value created for customers and society at large.


Philips (Netherlands)

Panel's verdict: Very good

A fully integrated and robust piece of work, from the first pages to the non-financial notes, including references -and measures- to green innovation, circular economy, operational carbon footprint, waste management, etc.


PostNL (Netherlands)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Excellent materiality disclosure: materiality analysis lies in the basis for preparation for CR statements. Stakeholders are one part of a five-step process to determine material issues, and the company also defines materiality in terms of impact on value creation. The role of managing people as technology changes the nature of work is emphasized. The focus on customer satisfaction goes way beyond many similar service businesses.


Saint-Gobain (France)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Clear evidence of integrated thinking at the top. Sustainability priorities clearly related to operations and processes. Transparency about how value added is distributed to various stakeholder groups through taxes, salaries, etc. Detailed reporting on direct societal impact (through sustainable construction techniques, projects) and indirect impacts (indirect job creation).


Sodexo (France)

Panel's verdict: Very good

The ambition of creating value through improving quality of life -and not only by being focused on financial profit- is stated clearly. Benefits created for different types of customers are finely reported. That goes beyond French legal requirements in terms of assurance for non-financial indicators.


Stora Enso (Finland)

Panel's verdict: Good

How we create value as a renewable materials company is mapped most clearly. Well-balanced Sustainability Report. Effective system of links and hyperlinks between documents (e.g. to GRI put online). Wealth of data by production unit.


Telefonica (Spain)

Panel's verdict: Good

Major non-financial indicators are available quickly. Telefonica demonstrates integrated thinking and an understanding of material issues in terms of how they present non-financial performance –digital trust and customer satisfaction are explained quite logically before environmental impact. GRI compliance thoroughly checked.


Tokmanni (Finland)

Panel's verdict: Excellent

Significantly, the responsibility report is the longest and shows a real balance towards various stakeholder audiences and concerns. Going for a topical approach -e.g. Fair treatment, Responsible sourcing, transparent tax disclosure- livens things up and makes them more intelligible. Useful Information used in calculations.


Umicore (Belgium)

Panel's verdict: Very good

With recycling among the core businesses, environmentally related issues are naturally well integrated. But the Belgian firm goes the extra mile and shared value creation and integrated thinking are effectively integrated throughout: e.g. social development goals are tied to strategic objectives, sustainability statements are supported with accounting notes.


Valmet (Finland)

Panel's verdict: Very good

Strong reporting on how sustainability is embedded throughout the business--called sustainability 360 degrees. Materiality assessment done by sending surveys to 9,000 stakeholders. This is reported as part of GRI reporting, which seems very compliance-oriented. A pity that the overall presentation isn’t better communicated.


Wärtsilä (Finland)

Panel's verdict: Very good

The company sells environmental and lifecycle solutions, so sustainability is discussed in terms of each business segment in the business overview. At the beginning, sustainability goals relevant to the core business are presented along with financial goals. Financial and sustainability targets make sense, and performance is reported against these, making them one of the most important report features. Very good disclosure on ongoing stakeholder engagement.


Questions - Answers - Team

Definition by the University of Toledo (Ohio, U.S.) within the context of its SEED initiative, inspired by the original definition in the Bruntland Report (1992).

The review was based on a selection of 500 annual, corporate responsibility, sustainability, integrated… reports, documents, websites scanned by e.com analysts. A shortlist of 60-plus reports was submitted to four panel members who narrowed it down to 30 best-practice examples.

The main questions asked, issues raised, and answers given were about:

  • Format: Sustainability or CSR report published alongside? Or inside the main annual report? Or in an integrated reporting pattern?
  • Digital: Special sustainability/responsibility report? Additional online features?
  • Content and effectiveness of communication about these issues
  • Value creation – Value added
  • Compliance with various reporting patters and guidelines (GRI, IIRC, etc.)
  • Is sustainability/CSR a component of/integrated into strategy?
  • Stakeholder groups: are they covered fairly and thoroughly?
  • Materiality analysis
  • Non-financial highlights
  • Non-financial KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Human resources – Social matters (recruitment, turnover, training, health, diversity…)
  • Product responsibility – Community – Society (initiatives, product design and development, consumer interests…)
  • Environmental performance (emissions, energy, waste, water…)
  • Special statements and notes for non-financials
  • Any extra point raised by panel members
  • Susan Blesener

    Susan Blesener

    Susan Blesener is the founder of The Art of Value, a management consultancy that helps companies define, manage and report on what matters most. She has more than ten years of experience in integrated management and reporting and works with companies in the Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S. that are on the path to integration. Before establishing The Art of Value, she managed corporate and integrated reporting at IFC (World Bank’s private sector arm), and Novo Nordisk, one of the first companies to issue an integrated report. Her recent projects include developing IIRC-approved training and training the World Bank’s corporate governance advisory personnel in best practice disclosure methods. Susan played the leadership role in this year’s panel.

    E-mail: susan@theartofvalue.com

  • Vero Escarmelle

    Vero Escarmelle

    Vero has vast experience in coordinating, supervising and producing annual reports, reviews and other corporate printed and online publications. She is now a brand marketing manager at the European office of RICS –a global standards setting property professionals’ organization. Vero previously held junior and then senior marketing and communication positions at The Enterprise Group (e.g. in Southeast Asian markets), Research International (a WPP company), and for a U.S. firm in electronics. She was the co-founder and marketing manager of Enterprise Group’s reporting unit -spun off into e.com in 1999- and started up the Annual Report on Annual Reports for which she has remained an adviser and panel member since the beginning. This year, her focus was on how sustainability issues were communicated in annual reports.

    E-mail: vero.e@reportwatch.net

  • Kaevan Gazdar

    Kaevan Gazdar

    Now an independent consultant, Kaevan Gazdar was previously in charge of corporate reporting at HypoVereinsbank, one of Germany's largest banks, now part of the Italian-based Unicredit Group. The bank was awarded many times in German report rating competitions. Kaevan is co-author of the annual report book "Geschäftsbericht ohne Fehl und Tadel" and also published books on corporate citizenship and corporate communication (including "Unternehmerische Wohltaten: Last oder Lust?"). He is a member of the jury of the Good Company ranking, the author of "Reporting Nonfinancials" (much focused on sustainability issues) and has held seminars and talks at various venues, including FT Knowledge, MCE and Ethical Corporation.

    E-mail: kaevan.gazdar@unicreditgroup.de

  • Mike Guillaume

    Mike Guillaume

    Mike is the co-founder and managing director of e.com-ReportWatch, a European-rooted, U.S.-incorporated and London-based firm that specializes in report assessment and benchmarking. Recognized as a leading international expert in corporate and financial reporting, he has reviewed thousands of reports and consulted for 100-plus international companies, and is the co-founder and editor of the Annual Report on Annual Reports. Prior to that, as an executive director of The Enterprise Group, his track record includes an extensive entrepreneurial and global management consulting experience in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. An economist, financial analyst and investor relations specialist, Mike is also the author of numerous articles and more recently of the book "The Seven Deadly Sins of Capitalism" (two editions).

    E-mail: mike.g@reportwatch.net


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