Consumers care about transparency, especially when it comes to businesses’ sustainability strategies. It is imperative to have a sustainability strategy that makes sure your business has environmentally and socially conscious practices across your value chain. However, your brand also needs to make sure that your consumers are able to access this strategy. This is mainly so that they can make informed decisions about your products before they decide to purchase them. Being transparent and reporting on your progress, and even your failures, will make your consumers trust you more. You can report transparently through an annual sustainability report, using a framework like the GRI to report against, or even by using wherefrom’s simple-to-use platform, which is also filled with ethical consumers yearning to learn more.
What you should be transparently reporting about (a non-exhaustive list!):
- Not only should your customers be able to see what your strategy is but they should be able to see how you’ve performed against it so far, what key sustainability milestones you have already achieved and which ones you’re still in the process of reaching.
- You should also be clearly stating what has worked for your business so far and what hasn’t. Maybe you signed up to a popular multi-stakeholder initiative only to find out that their work wasn’t the right fit for you so you dropped out, found another initiative or even started your own bespoke certification system. There could be backlash about that decision, but if you transparently explain why you made that decision, your reputation could even improve.
- You can speak transparently - even in a candid way - about the issues that you have yet to resolve or are working on. For instance candidly explaining that longer paternity leave was not a real priority until you understood its value for your employees and that now you are in the midst of establishing that in your policies.
- You could be bold and show leadership in the corporate sustainability sphere by publicly sharing the suppliers in your value chain - without endangering your suppliers either! This helps consumers understand where their products have come from and allows them to be more involved in the lifecycle of your product.
- You could even write something about why you’re not following a sustainability “trend” and explain to your customers why. For example, many of your competitors have been using vegan leather, but you haven’t found a supplier that doesn’t use plastic or that is in your price range. So instead, you’ve opted for recycled cowhide leather. As long as you explain the benefits of that decision, that could educate your consumers and allow for their continued support.
No matter what you decide, the most important is to be candid with your own company tone of voice, to include your consumers in your sustainability communications and to not being afraid to talk about your mistakes.