Behind the scenes: Our sustainability report


Every year many companies publish their sustainability report – and ista does, too. The production process takes about eight months. But what exactly happens during this time? We shed light on this and follow the journey from the first analysis to the finished report.

Here you can find our latest <<<<< Sustainability Report >>>>>

Most people know that companies publish annual reports. However, only a few people know that many of them are now also obliged to report on their progress in the field of sustainability. The European Union decided this at the end of 2016 with the adoption of the CSR Directive (CSR reporting obligation). As transparency has always been part of ista’s corporate philosophy, we have already been reporting publicly on our progress in the field of sustainability on a voluntary basis since 2010. The report includes, among other things, information on our strategy, our products and services, innovations as well as offerings for employees, social engagement and our environmental performance. The report serves at the same time as a progress report as a member of the United Nations Global Compact.

But how does such a reporting process actually work? Maike Böcker, who is responsible for sustainability communication in the Corporate Communications & Public Affairs department, gives an insight into the six steps on the way to the sustainability report.

From analysis and the materiality matrix to publication – these are the six steps to the sustainability report at a glance.

Step 1: It’s all about the essentials! – Internal analysis (period: November)

When we prepare our sustainability report, we always do it retrospectively for the preceding financial year. However, the preparation process for the report already starts before the reporting year is over, that is to say in November. As part of our sustainability reporting in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), we begin with a materiality analysis and examine every year again where we stand on sustainability. We means my colleagues and I from the CSR project team, our internal Sustainability Steering Committee and our agency, with whom we work for sustainability reporting. Together we establish and discuss new and existing fields of action, where we see the greatest ecological, economic and social impact for ista and where we believe that we as corporate citizens and with our business operations can minimise the negative impact on the environment and society and can make a positive contribution. One example is the field of action “create awareness“. Here we would like to raise people’s awareness for energy efficiency. Our new initiative “ista schools in energy efficiency” is one of these approaches.

We would like to raise people’s awareness for energy efficiency

Step 2: Your opinion counts! – Selecting the focal topics for the report (period: December)

Then it’s a question of weighting the fields of action in the materiality analysis so we can identify the focal topics. The opinions of our external stakeholders (customers, suppliers, NGOs, politicians, investors, associations) and internal stakeholders (employees) are very important to us in this process. That is why we conduct interviews with experts and stakeholder surveys – this way we give our sustainability report a valid basis and find out where ista’s focuses are seen to be and how ista is rated in terms of sustainability.

Step 3: The framework is set! – Adoption of the materiality analysis (early January)

After a thorough evaluation of the surveys and interviews with experts, the Sustainability Steering Committee meets to discuss the results. At this meeting the most important step is to make an assessment from the business perspective. What has changed since the previous year? Have the fields of action changed as regards their priority? What would the stakeholders like to learn from ista about sustainability? All this is discussed and the bottom line is the adoption of the new materiality matrix. It provides information on the internal and external opinions as to the importance of the defined fields of action.

Step 4: Filling the sustainability report with life! – Collecting data (February – March)

In this case it is not about collecting data on our customers’ water and heat consumption – but data on ista. For years now, we have been using a comprehensive data acquisition system for our quantitative and qualitative data. We acquire the qualitative data by asking our colleagues from the different countries and our German branches to provide information about projects and developments. Our internal environmental consultant is in charge of acquiring the key environmental figures and coordinating the auditing of the key figures. So we can make sure that we communicate valid and reliable key environmental figures.

Step 5: Orderly approach and quality writing are needed! – Editorial work (April – mid-June)

Once all data have been collected and assigned to the focal topics, the next step is the editorial work. We report in accordance with the indicators of the Global Reporting Initiative and the German Sustainability Code and give insight into relevant projects of ista. As soon as the texts are finished, we make sure quality checks are conducted by the relevant specialist departments. In this way we ensure that all topics and key figures are correctly communicated. The final texts are then put into the layout and translated into English – after all, our national organisations and international stakeholders should also be able to gain something from the report.

Step 6: Roll out the red carpet! – Publication (end of June)

The finished report is proof-read and the key environmental figures audited by an external auditing firm. As soon as this has been done and the Management Board has approved publication of the report, it makes its appearance on the red carpet: that is to say in our online magazine INSIDEista, where the sustainability report is made available for all ista stakeholders to download and read – just pop in and have a look!