Purpose and impact in sustainability reporting

A review of leading UK companies

A review of leading UK companies

This year’s Building Public Trust Awards mark the 11th year that we have been reviewing sustainability reporting across the FTSE 350, PIEs, and, more recently inbound companies.

Over the past 12 months the growth of public awareness and concern over climate change (more frequently now referred to as a ‘climate emergency’) has seen a huge uptick. There is a strong consensus that if we do not achieve real change in the way we use and consume the Earth’s natural resources over the next 10 years then the consequences will be catastrophic. Furthermore, since the release of David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’ in 2017, sustainability issues such as biodiversity loss and ocean plastics have entered the public consciousness like never before. Society is increasing its expectations of the role businesses should play in tackling these issues, organisations are expected to not only minimise their negative impacts but to contribute positively too. Over the past few years, we have seen companies taking greater responsibility in helping move towards a cleaner and more sustainable planet. Many are articulating this as part of their corporate purpose that is central to their business strategy.

This award celebrates the ‘Purpose and impact in sustainability reporting’. I believe that a transparent, concise and ambitious purpose is key for businesses to mitigate sustainability risk in today’s volatile and unpredictable environment.

Our analysis of this year’s reporting was presented to an independent panel, which chose a winner alongside two highly commended companies. These prestigious awards are presented at our annual Building Public Trust Awards lunch. You can see the winning and highly commended organisations at www.bptawards.com.

In choosing the winner, we reviewed reporting of over 470 organisations. Our in-depth approach and our long history of these reviews give us insight into what a great report looks like, and how innovation in the reporting is developing.

Sustainability reporting tips

Each year, we publish our sustainability reporting tips, which you can download in full above. These tips highlight leading practice in sustainability reporting and help make companies’ reporting on sustainability more effective. In the private sector, the organisations following these tips are setting a lead for others to follow. We've categorised the tips under five key questions which your reporting should answer.

This year’s report of leading practice examples now includes 3 additional chapters that spotlight on the SDGs, TCFDs and international good practice.

Each year, we also publish Sustainability Reporting Tips. These tips highlight leading practice in sustainability reporting and help make companies’ reporting on sustainability more effective. In both the private and the public sector, the organisations following these tips in their sustainability reporting are setting a lead for others to follow.

How does sustainability fit with your organisation’s strategy?

Organisation Overview

Provide an overview of your organisation’s key activities and the environment in which you operate.


Communicate a clear and succinct purpose that explains your organisation’s raison d’être beyond creating a financial return for shareholders.


Describe how your sustainability strategy is integrated into your core corporate strategy and demonstrate how it permeates throughout your business.

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How do you consider your priorities?


Demonstrate that you have an understanding of the sustainability issues that are most relevant to you and your key stakeholders.

Stakeholder engagement

Explain how you engage with principal stakeholders and how this has impacted your sustainability strategy.

Risks and opportunities

Explain the key strategic risks and opportunities for your organisation that arise from sustainability issues.

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How do you monitor and manage performance?

KPIs and targets

Identify KPIs that are directly relevant to your sustainability strategy and set challenging, but realistic targets that you can review your performance against.


Provide a clear explanation and quantification of the social, environmental and economic impacts of your business.


Provide a clear explanation of the company’s sustainability governance structure and explain how directors and staff are incentivised to deliver on the sustainability strategy.


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How do you consider the broader viability of the business?

Value chain

Consider relevant upstream and downstream value chain aspects of your business in order to take account of all environmental, social and economic impacts, both positive and negative.

Future proofing

Disclose that you've considered the future resource constraints that might affect your business e.g. nonfinancial capitals including natural capital and human capital.

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How do you report with clarity and transparency?

Balanced reporting

Present information in a balanced and transparent fashion and explain where and how improvements will be made.


Ensure the credibility of your reported content by referencing, for example, independent studies, external benchmarking, expert review panels or external third party assurance.

Modern slavery

Disclose your slavery and human trafficking statement in accordance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

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Contact us

Natasha Mawdsley

Natasha Mawdsley

, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 0407346

Liron Mannie

Liron Mannie

, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7706 285066

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