Event Highlights | Lifeforce or Lifeless: Meeting the needs of the sustainability community - Black Sun Plc

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Event Highlights | Lifeforce or Lifeless: Meeting the needs of the sustainability community

Black Sun’s second event in the Web100 series focused on how companies communicate their sustainability story on their corporate websites. The findings show a trends in companies’ commitment towards their sustainability strategies, as seen through better disclosure.

Joining Richard Dixon, Digital Officer, and Dan Cowley, Head of Digital Strategy, to comment on the research results is Black Sun’s Sustainability Communication Director Leighton Barnish. Leighton said “telling a strong sustainability narrative begins with listening. We listen to the company’s and their stakeholders’ needs before applying tools [such as materiality assessment and stakeholder engagement programmes] to shape and develop the right messages.”

Key takeaways

Strong narrative​

This year sees a greater clarity in the sustainability narrative online, with 96 companies provide an overview on how they approach sustainability. Among those, 69 go further to outline their environmental impact and 41 describe their material issues.

A question was asked on how often should a materiality assessment be conducted. The panel’s opinion is to do one every other year, with a refresh in between. They also emphasise the importance of explaining the issues determination process, to steer away from greenwashing claims.

Committed leadership

Over two years the number of companies with Boards outlining their sustainability commitment online has almost doubled, going from 19 in 2019 to 33 in 2021

Enhanced reporting

There have been a lot of development in the past seven years in the space of sustainability reporting and companies recognise that there is not a one-stop-shop to address the reporting needs. Increasingly, they turn to digital channels as these allow access to different stakeholders much more strategically than a 95-page sustainability report. By and large, the research is showing companies to have fallen into two categories: 1) those providing a lot of data, and 2) the storytellers who weave sustainability throughout their narrative

The research is seeing increases year on year in the number of companies using interactive tools to view sustainability data. Out of the 75 companies providing link to their sustainability report on their website, 63 also provide a download centre/archive for old reports. Additionally, companies are providing supplemental sustainability data in different formats, such as factsheet or downloadable Excel files.

A question was also asked about the importance of the GRI framework, with the panellists agreeing that while it may not be the best framework for storytelling, it is nevertheless very useful for materiality assessment. Regarding external evaluation and assurance on sustainability data, the view is that they are necessary to add robustness to the data, something that investors are increasingly demanding from corporates.

View this year's results

Our upcoming Web 100 events

We have two more webinars in our 2021 W100 series, each of which is targeted at specific audience groups and areas of interests. Please follow the links below to find out more about our upcoming events and to register.


To request a personalised assessment, please get in touch with our Senior Business Developer, Naomi Hawkins

Black Sun is a stakeholder communications company. We help businesses to communicate authentically how they deliver value to inspire, engage and influence their important stakeholders. We believe that inspiring strategic communications can spark positive change and drive long-term, sustainable performance. We want to work with companies who want to build better businesses through better communications.