The Organizational Scope of Reporting Varies Substantially

Sustainability reports have been written to cover a company's

• Global operations;

• Operations within one country;

• Operations within one business line; or

• Facility-level operations.

The scope of the report should reflect the interests and information needs of the intended target audience(s). For example, investors will likely be most interested in a report that covers a company's entire operations and focuses on key financial risk issues. Local residents will likely prefer to see information presented at the facility level, allowing them to consider the performance of their local facility relative to other facilities owned by the company.

As public reporting evolves, a number of companies are experimenting with different mechanisms to allow the reader to focus on the organizational scope of greatest interest to them. Interesting approaches include:

• Provision of company-wide and facility-specific information within one report. A number of companies include facility-level performance information within the body of their reports or in an appendix (e.g., DSM, Kuraray).

• Publication of multiple reports. Within large, multinational corporations, it is not unusual to see the parent company publish a global report, which is then supplemented by country-level or subsidiary reports. This is the approach used by Sekisui Chemical. Similarly, Dow Chemical supplements its country-level report with facility-level reports.

• Provision of additional, interactive web-based information. As more companies move to e-reporting or hybrid reporting (in which a hard copy report is supplemented by additional information on the company's website), they are able to provide interactive features that allow the user to customize information to suit their needs. For example, Novo Nordisk (an international pharmaceutical company) produces an electronic report that includes a section titled "Interactive charts." Here, users can generate custom data charts for various social and environmental indicators either by site or by year.

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