Blurring Boundaries

Corporate reporting is evolving rapidly as external expectations force companies to respond to a multiplicity of formal requirements and stakeholder demands for transparency.

Sustainability plays a key role in this transformation as environmental, social and governance (ESG) information and a company’s wider value to society are seen as critical to financial risk and performance. The conventional, neat division between financial and non-financial topics is breaking down: instead of treating them as separate domains, how companies interpret the interplay between financial performance and their approach to sustainability is emerging as a key attribute of best practice reporting. What’s more, reporting needs to express a clear and engaging narrative about future strategies and progress.

At Lundquist we created Blurring Boundaries to guide companies in this new scenario. By tracking reporting practices annually, we analyse various elements – ranging from type of reporting document, organisation of content, use of visual and narrative techniques – that help make the sustainability approach credible, clear and integrated. 

How the research works

In Blurring Boundaries, we analyse the reporting practices by mapping and analysing all corporate documents that deal in some way with ESG topics. We look at two groups of companies:

  • In Italy: 40 members of the benchmark FTSE MIB index plus 10 top non-listed names
  • In Europe: “Gold class” members of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and industry movers that are based in European countries.

We conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis looking at where and how sustainability is integrated into corporate documents, covering annual, integrated and sustainability reports as well as the connectivity between financial and non-financial topics. We examine everything from materiality to guidelines, from digital formats to visual communications and from the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) to reporting guidelines.

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Find out more about Blurring Boundaries

Our free 32-page whitepaper presenting a summary of findings, is available to companies upon request.

Clients can receive:

  • Complete report with detailed findings and examples
  • Analysis of company’s reporting with strengths & weaknesses
  • Industry benchmark (focused on a specific aspect of reporting if required)
  • Guide to ESG communications
  • Tailored action plan for improvement

Send an email to our project manager, Vittoria Ghirlanda (vittoria.ghirlanda@lundquist.it). We’d be happy to schedule a meeting or a call to understand your requirements.

Read our latest thoughts on sustainability on our blog.

How Blurring Boundaries can help you

Having a clear picture of the reporting practices of sustainability leaders is fundamental in understanding trends and adopting successful solutions. Apart from a report of findings, trends and best practices gathered from the companies included in the research, our criteria can easily be extended to industry peers to get a comparison with current practice within your sector. We can help answer questions such as:

  • How to adopt a more narrative and communicative approach that is effective for demanding audiences such as investors and analysts?
  • How can we help ESG rating agencies to fully understand our approach and performance?
  • What approaches are being adopted by companies in our sector and what can we learn from them?
  • How to make best use of graphical elements and online channels to make an impact on our audiences and get our messages across?

The best companies manage to explain the strategic connection between sustainability and financial performance regardless of the choice of reporting document