Firms should change mindset on sustainability reporting

I read about how many companies find sustainability reporting to be a burden beyond their annual reporting (SGX less strict than peers, but compliance is weighing on firms; BT, Nov 7).

Companies should, as Tuan Sing Holdings chief financial controller Leong Kok Ho said, "devote more time on business strategy and execution".

Sustainability, however, is about business strategy and execution for the long term, too.

It is not just about community outreach, as some listed companies seem to think, judging by their annual reports and the seemingly obligatory page on a social outreach event and/or charitable donation.

For businesses, sustainability needs to be an approach that considers business strategy, operational execution, how their value chain impacts and is impacted by their business, robust risk management, stakeholder engagement and strong corporate governance, all within the physical and social environment which they operate.

As Forbes magazine founder B.C. Forbes said: "Any business arrangement that is not profitable to the other person will in the end prove unprofitable for you. The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated."

An overall gain for all stakeholders is therefore essential for business sustainability. To that end, businesses need to adopt a mindset where sustainability is at the core of every aspect of their business.

Sustainability reporting will then be no more than publishing what they are already doing.

Adam Reutens-Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2018, with the headline 'Firms should change mindset on sustainability reporting'. Print Edition | Subscribe