Motivating for change

Insights from 10 years of engagement

The continuous exchange with high-profile representatives of leading companies from different industries across the globe provided us with invaluable insights at different levels: first of all, it was an effective means for keeping up to date with overall trends in corporate sustainability. Secondly, we were able to recognize and understand distinctive patterns in different industries and geographical or cultural areas. Thirdly, the dialogues enabled us to gain an in-depth understanding of the rationale behind a company’s sustainability reporting.

For example the reluctance to publish objectives hampered the reporting of clear, measurable achievements. How, for example, can a reader know whether a certain decrease in CO2 emissions is a real achievement if the company has not published any clear statement about their ambitions previously? Even more disputed was the question of whether a company also publishes its non-achievements. In our view, a company which admits that it has failed to achieve goals it had set for itself, comes across as being sincere. What is more, the failure to achieve a goal also suggests that a company has been setting ambitious goals for itself. By contrast, companies which permanently achieve all of their targets, sometimes far ahead of time, beg the question of whether they only focus on ‘low hanging fruits’. However, as some company representatives admitted, the question of whether they should admit ‘failure’ was an ongoing point of contention among representatives from different departments, and in some cases it touched on the very foundation of their overall corporate culture.

While there has been a proliferation of sustainability ratings over the past years, it is safe to say that the GuiléReportingAssessmentTM and the work of the Guilé Engagement Team stand out in terms of the thorough way in which a company’s information is screened and discussed. → View full report