3. Steering with indicators

Today, any company that reports on its sustainability activities without backing these claims up with a non-financial report can quickly find its brand under fire amidst accusations of greenwashing. Reliable, material and comparable statements must be underpinned by indicators.

Unlike financial reports, there are no rules and regulations governing sustainability reports. However, numerous guidelines and frameworks do exist, including:

  • Obligations regarding transparency Directive 2013/34/EU is an important regulation at EU level. It governs the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups. In Germany, the CSR Guideline Implementation Act (CSR-RUG) was introduced in response to this.
  • Frameworks for corporate sustainability reporting The standards defined by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are recognised internationally. Other guidelines include the German Sustainability Code (DNK), Communication on Progress (COP) reports defined by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) initiative and the industry-specific standards issued by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).
  • Integrated reporting The framework created by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) outlines ways of combining financial and sustainability information.
  • Reporting and climate protection The recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) provide valuable guidance in this category. The creation of a greenhouse gas (GHG) report as per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is equally important here.
  • Sustainable investment rankings Key examples here include the globally recognised SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), which is an annual evaluation of a company’s sustainability performance, and the ISS ESG analyses (previously known as oekom research).
  • Sustainability across the supply chain Platforms such as EcoVadis and SEDEX can be used to systematically assess supplier performance.

I can guide you through the jungle of legal regulations and standards, weighing up the costs and benefits of creating a reliable, officially recognised sustainability report. After all, the aim of a non-financial indicator framework is to provide real value to you and your company – and not just to comply with a standard.


Climate change is shaping society and politics around the globe. Loud calls for action are increasingly shining the spotlight on companies and their products.

  • Can you tell your customers the carbon footprint of your products off the top of your head? And how you aim to reduce these product-related emissions over the coming year?
  • What is your company doing to reduce resource consumption, for instance, or ensure compliance with labour standards and human rights across your supply chain?

Systematically recording non-financial indicators to document resource consumption, your personnel structure, climate-relevant emissions, etc. gives you transparent insights into your operations and allows you to precisely steer your sustainability strategy.

Find out more about indicators and steering methods.