28 March 2023

Who is responsible for the sustainability report?

Categoria: Linguistic Services

The sustainability report is an essential document for all companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to society and the environment to their stakeholders, which is why its preparation involves several experts.

Generally, in companies that export to other markets, there are two people involved in the sustainability report: the person who drafts it and the person who translates it. Given the strategic relevance of this document, it is essential that each of these figures have all the necessary skills to adequately perform the task. Let’s take a look at them.

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Who drafts it?

The sustainability report can be drafted by an internal employee or by an external consultant, depending on whether or not there is a competent figure in the company to draft this specific type of report.

At Way2Global, for example, it is myself, the company’s CEO, who draws up the sustainability report every year. In order to do so, I had to attend a high-level training course and pass a final exam to join the register of certified Chief Value Officers (CVOs), also known as Value Managers.

Drawing up a sustainability report is a very delicate process, since it represents the value generated by the company in the economic sphere and in the ESG areas, i.e. in the environmental, social and governance spheres.

To prepare it, is therefore not enough to simply deal with sustainability within a company; specific training is required. The corporate value reporting process is highly complex and requires vertical, multifaceted expertise on several issues.

First of all, anyone who draws up a sustainability report must have a solid theoretical background in the subject, substantiated, for example, by knowledge of:

  • the principles of civil economics, a primary economic theory for conducting business in a sustainable manner;
  • the fundamental concepts of value creation and the processes of value generation by organisations through the six capitals;
  • measurement and reporting metrics and methodologies, such as the IIRC IR Framework or GRI Standards

This is coupled with an in-depth knowledge of the company.

Vision, mission, values, history, activities, projects… Anyone drawing up a sustainability report must be familiar with all the ins and outs of the company that is the subject of the report. Only this level of expertise makes it possible to produce a truly representative document of the company that is also useful from a strategic standpoint.

Relational skills are also crucial in this regard. The person who draws up the sustainability report has to deal with various stakeholders: internal resources (shareholders, management, employees), as well as external stakeholders (customers, suppliers, investors, etc.). This dialogue takes place both upstream of reporting – through dialogue and stakeholder engagement to gather information and data on activities, results and impacts – and downstream of reporting, such as at the communication and disclosure stage.

Analytical skills are equally crucial, given the task at hand. Once the information has been gathered, it must be selected, analysed and evaluated to provide an overview of the entire value produced by the company.

Despite its importance to the long-term sustainability of the company, financial component represents just one part of a much more complex picture. Can achieving economic growth by trampling on workers’ rights or polluting the environment be considered a positive practice? Like so much of the public, we at Way2Global are convinced that this predatory, maximum profit-oriented approach is no longer acceptable, which is why we need to identify and assess all value aspects in addition to the economic dimension.

Last but not least, anyone drafting a sustainability report must have good writing skills. The stages of collection, stakeholder dialogue and analysis are followed by the drafting of the report, which must then be communicated to the rest of the world. Although the style, register or tone of voice may differ from company to company, the essential attributes of any sustainability report are the clarity, accuracy, completeness and concision of the summarised information.

Given the significance of this challenging endeavour, once complete, the sustainability report should be disseminated as widely as possible. First and foremost, this means expanding the potential readership, an aim that can easily be achieved by translating the report into other languages.

Who translates it?

Here too, there are two ways to proceed: entrusting the translation to a company employee or to an external agency. As in the aforementioned case, the decision depends on whether or not the company has the profile and skills required to flawlessly translate the budget.

First of all, a perfect command of the source and target language is required. This not only means knowing languages well, but also being able to grasp every nuance and being able to transpose it in the most appropriate way. This is a real talent that requires specific training and, as a rule, a degree in translation and years of experience in the field.

Language proficiency must be combined with in-depth cultural knowledge, another key element for a perfect translation. The same concept can be expressed by drawing on an infinite number of combinations of different words, which can each potentially evoke different scenarios and imagery depending on the specific culture and sensitivity of the country to which they belong.

Anyone who translates a sustainability report must also be specialised in non-financial reporting. To transpose the content of this document as effectively as possible, the translator must be able to understand the logic and functioning of the underlying process, be familiar with the main industry reference standards and master the technical terminology in use.

A further element guaranteeing the high quality of the translation of a sustainability report is that the final version is checked by professionals other than the translators who did the translation.

Although technological tools available today in the language industry help significantly reduce oversights in the production process, ISO 17100:2015 prescribes a structured series of checks (revision, proofreading, QA, etc.) on the work cycle to ensure the quality of the final translation.

The standard also regulates the profiles of the professionals authorised to perform checks on the content of the translation, such as the reviser, who shares the same requirements and skills as the translator, or the proofreader, who merely performs a formal check.

The translation process is therefore more difficult for a company to manage internally since it would require the presence of a team of specialised professionals (translators, revisers, proofreaders). This is why companies tend to outsource the translation of their sustainability report to a translation agency such as Way2Global.

At Way2Global, we translate over 200 reports of all types every year, including sustainability reports. As a Società Benefit, we know how important it is to ensure a faithful and flawless translation of this valuable document. Thanks to our network of native-speaking translators and linguists specialised in non-financial reporting, we can provide the service of translating sustainability reports into any language combination.

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    Laura Gori is the Founder and CEO of Way2Global, a women-led translation agency startup with a Benefit ethos. After 30 years at the helm of a small multinational localization company, Laura decided to make a fresh start and founded Way2Global to conduct business in a way that benefits society and the environment, while promoting corporate growth. A fervent advocate of Benefit Corporations and women’s empowerment, Laura takes every opportunity to spread awareness on these issues and contribute to a fairer, more egalitarian and sustainable economy for all.
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