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    CSR and sustainability reporting hazards to watch out forEnvironmental management is about more than just keeping facilities in compliance with regulations. It also is a key source of vital business information like environmental stewardship, investments in sustainability, though leadership, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

    It can be difficult, however, to know how to best use that type of data that just doesn’t fit nicely into a regulatory compliance report. Sharing environmental data and CSR information can be powerful marketing tools, but it’s not always easy to do right.

    We at ERA Environmental Management Solutions are experts at environmental data management and compliance reporting. Yet good environmental managers also know there’s the public side to environmental management that too often gets forgotten.

    We’ve written a lot about CSR data, and about how transparency is good for business. In fact, you can read some of our articles about these topics right here:

    Recently the environmental marketing and media group Triple Pundit has published a list of the top mistakes businesses make when trying to tap into the marketing potential of their CSR data that we felt was worth sharing with you. If you’ve been following our advice and dedicating yourself to going beyond the basics of environmental compliance, you’ll want to start turning all that data into something marketable.

    Here are a few of the most useful things to watch out for:

    “3. Communications operates separately from operations

    There’s a harsher term for the case where the communications message is not backed up by the actions of other departments: greenwashing. When a communications team runs around telling stories about the great things a company does without the input of the C-Suite, bad things can happen.”

    As we’ve said before at ERA, you need to have great environmental data management to back up your claims and avoid greenwashing. It’s the foundation of any great EH&S department and its contributions.

    “5. Skipping the stakeholders 

    Finding the issues that are material to your company is not always as easy as it sounds. You probably have a good idea, but the other employees, customers, NGOs and policy organizations with whom your organization interacts also have ideas about what’s material. Make sure you ask them and incorporate their suggestions into your strategy.”

    Getting your boss on board with your EH&S efforts and working with them for big projects like ISO 14001 certification is vital, but not straightforward. It is one of the biggest stumbling blocks an environmental specialist can face.

    8. Going too light on quantitatives

    If I had a dollar for every CSR report filled with pictures of sunshine, solar panels and smiling, multicultural employees, I’d be a rich woman. These reports are a great start, but until a company starts setting targets and reporting honestly on whether or not they’re meeting them, I take their communications with a grain of salt.

    We’ve said it again and again: having the environmental data matters. Without amazing data management and monitoring in place, you can’t produce the concrete evidence that savvy consumers and your target market absolutely need.

    You can read the rest of the top ten list on the Triple Pundit Website.

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    (Image credit: upyernoz)

    Alex Chamberlain
    Post by Alex Chamberlain
    August 31, 2012
    Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.