Soccer team huddled together on the field

If you’re like me, it seems like every time I open LinkedIn these days, my newsfeed is full of companies proudly sharing their annual Corporate Responsibility (CR) Reports. These reports (also known as Sustainability Reports, ESG Reports, or CSR Reports) offer a window into a company’s social impact across its business functions. Some narratives stand out among the flood of information—stories of companies pushing boundaries, setting ambitious goals, and making real strides toward sustainability, diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

These reports are more than just a showcase of achievements; they reflect a shifting paradigm in business. Stakeholders—consumers, investors, employees, governments, and regulators—are increasingly holding companies accountable for their social and environmental footprint. The demand for corporate responsibility isn’t just a passing trend, it’s a fundamental shift in the business landscape, and how we report on these efforts is crucial to our learning and future endeavors.

For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of guiding the team behind one of these mega-reports. Being part of the massive, eight-month annual effort and coordination needed to craft such a comprehensive document has been fascinating and consuming. The entire process made me deeply appreciate the diversity of skills and expertise involved.

CR report development is a team sport played out through a long season. Gathering data, conducting research, and shaping narratives to reflect the company’s values and impact accurately requires immense coordination across different departments and functions. It involves extensive collaboration between various teams, including data analysts, researchers, writers, editors, designers, and subject matter experts. Each group contributes their knowledge and expertise to ensure that the report is accurate, informative, and engaging.

Here are four roles I would make sure to have on my roster that are essential to every report’s success:

Great coaches who keep everyone focused on the overall goal of improving business and society while executing the details of the game plan every day.

Subject matter experts who provide sophisticated content and data that becomes the substance of the report.

Strong sponsors who serve as internal champions using their credibility to rally the support and engagement of other senior executives and protect the team from internal politics and siloes.

Powerful storytellers who write and design for clarity, simplicity, and inspiration.

As Cause Consulting celebrates 20 years of impact this year, the theme “Courageous Together” resonates deeply across my CR reporting experience. Being part of this report development journey demonstrates the true value of teamwork, communication, and diverse perspectives, and it reinforced my belief that there is a commitment to the betterment of our world, especially when dedicated individuals are working together.

Corporate responsibility isn’t about ticking boxes and then moving on; it’s about fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration, sharing the impact, and embracing the challenge of building a more sustainable and inclusive future, together, as a team.

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