Corporate Social Reporting Meaning

06/05/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

A CSR, corporate social responsibility or sustainability report is a periodical (usually annual) report published by companies with the goal of sharing their corporate social responsibility actions and results.

According to the Global Reporting Initiative, a CSR report can be defined as:

“A sustainability report is a report published by a company or organization about the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by its everyday activities. A sustainability report also presents the organization’s values and governance model, and demonstrates the link between its strategy and its commitment to a sustainable global economy.”

The report synthesizes and makes public the information organizations decide to communicate regarding their commitments and actions in social and environmental areas. By doing so, organizations let stakeholders (i.e., all parties interested in their activities) aware of how they are integrating the principles of sustainable development into their everyday operations.

Purpose of a CSR Report

The main intention of a CSR or sustainability report is to improve the transparency of organizations’ activities. The goal is twofold:

On one hand, CSR reports aim to enable companies to measure the impact of their activities on the environment, on society and on the economy (the famous triple-bottom-line). In this way, companies can get accurate and insightful data which will help them improve their processes and have a more positive impact in society and in the world.

On the other hand, a CSR or sustainability report also allows companies to externally communicate with their stakeholders what are their goals regarding sustainable development and CSR. This allows stakeholders such as employees, investors, media, NGOs, among other interested parties, to get to know better what are the short, medium and long-term goals of companies and make more informed decisions. These decisions can spread from investing in a business, buying its products, writing positive (or negative) reviews, protesting in the streets against the intentions or actions of an organization.


As discussed above, CSR and sustainability reports can be used to achieve both internal and/or external goals.

The Internal Organizational Benefits of a Sustainability Report

Internally speaking, CSR reports are important because they allow companies to estimate the impact their operations have on the environment, society, and the economy. Through the (supposedly) detailed and meaningful data collected (or simply gathered) for the sustainability report, companies have a chance to improve their operations and to reduce operational costs. Not only do they become better prepared to optimize and reduce their energy consumption; as a result of reviewing their waste cycles product innovation strategies or circular economy opportunities can be found.

At the same time, collecting this data requires joint efforts from different departments. As a result of the hype that’s created, employees often end up becoming more conscious the company is focusing on CSR and sustainability, which leaves them proud increasing employee retention and decreasing turnover (and its costs). It’s good news for employer branding.

The External Organizational Benefits of a Sustainability Report

When it comes to external benefits, a CSR and sustainability report can help companies engage better with their interested parties. By letting their stakeholders know about the organization’s short, medium and long-term project decisions, companies can be better understood which may have positive financial outputs.

For instance, a sustainability report helps stakeholders become aware of whether a company is positively contributing to minimizing the negative impacts of an environmental hazard or that it is only focused on growing profits for its managers and investors. Silence is also a way of communication and if no sustainability report is found the odds are people will focus on the second option just mentioned.

In this way, consumers can decide whether they want to buy from a brand that protects orangutans by sourcing sustainable palm oil or one that produces clothes locally with little environmental harm and paying fair wages. Investors can anticipate if companies are becoming more resilient to face consequences of climate change and decide whether to invest in them or not. Journalists can share best case practices from companies leading the way on topics such as microplastics pollution or ocean acidification. NGOs can exert pressure and expose irresponsible practices.