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This month's featured reports – spotlight on Edelman
11 December 2013

​This month, the spotlight is on Edelman, a public relations firm based in Chicago and New York. Read on to find out more about the organization and its sustainability reporting journey.
How many reports have you published and how has your reporting process changed over the years?

Honoring our Heritage, Building a Shared Future is our third annual Global Citizenship report. When we started the Global Citizenship practice in 2010, we began by evaluating our level of citizenship, building a global citizenship network, determining best practices and next steps, and laying the groundwork for a comprehensive global citizenship strategy. With the foundation built, this year was spent integrating our insights into everything we do, through tangible initiatives with achievable goals. This integration is seen in the development of our five global policies for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction, the introduction of a global citizenship dashboard, the creation of the Global Ethics Committee and Global Privacy Initiative, and the 603 Summer of Service Campaign, among others listed in our report. We have built the framework and are now acting to achieve our goals.

To what extent have you managed to reach the sustainability targets which were set in your previous reports?

We are pleased with our overall $4 million in professional, general and cash contributions to the communities in which we operate. Additionally, we made a commitment to A Billion + Change to complete 15,000 hours of volunteerism, but our overall volunteerism hours, both professional and general, increased to over 30,000 hours. We acknowledge that our GHG emissions increased nine percent. However, the increase in emissions is less than our FY13 annual growth of 11.9 percent. We were also pleased that our carbon intensity per employee declined three percent from last year. We understand that we need to do more to reduce our GHG emissions. To that end, we have introduced five global policies including video conference utilization of 10 percent, double-sided copying and use of 50 percent recycled paper. We have also introduced the use of an IT asset disposal service to collect our E-waste. We are actively continuing to discover ways to achieve our goals and establish our role as global citizens.

What are the main sustainability targets that you have set for the next reporting period?

In FY12, four of our hub offices (New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and London) committed to the achievement of a five percent decrease in carbon intensity by 2015. In FY13, our San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices joined the initiative and committed to four percent and 4.8 percent reduction goals, respectively. These goals will continue to be actively pursued in FY14 through our GreenAdvance initiative and the introduction of five global GHG reduction policies. FY14 will also feature the introduction of our citizenship dashboard, an evaluation customized for each office based on 10 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in areas crucial to maintaining a high level of responsibility - environment, volunteerism, society and governance. These dashboards will allow each office to have a better understanding of their carbon footprint and to assess progress toward achieving citizenship goals. The citizenship dashboards will also streamline our ongoing citizenship reporting and communications. Our goal for FY14 is to introduce the dashboards to each office and properly train and educate them on the data involved and the interpretation of the results so that we will have a more complete understanding of our citizenship goals worldwide. Additionally, we plan to use the results of our global citizenship survey to adjust goals and create initiatives that align with the values of our employees, allowing for the greatest possible impact to be made through continued increase in our volunteerism efforts.

What are the material topics covered in your report, and how did you determine them?

Global Citizenship is at the core of everything we do at Edelman. In fact, our culture statement was recently updated to include an essential component of citizenship. Since we published our first citizenship report for fiscal year 2011, Edelman’s approach to determining materiality for nonfinancial information has evolved continuously. In 2013, we expanded the engagement process to include a broader range of stakeholders and gain insights on a wider variety of concerns and expectations. Our global engagement process included our employees, business managers and executives, as well as external stakeholders, such as academics, clients, nongovernmental organizations, and peers in the services sector.

Internal and external stakeholders were surveyed using email and telephone interviews, face-to-face meetings and an online questionnaire. Edelman also discussed materiality for nonfinancial information with other professional services firms, which led to consensus on a universe of sustainability issues generally applicable to all professional services firms. The content of this year’s report reflects this analysis as well as the learnings from previous years in which we collected input from employees through a global survey, collected insights from senior leaders around the company and completed an internal audit of Edelman policies and citizenship efforts.

The presence of citizenship in every aspect of our business is represented in the various sections of our FY13 Global Citizenship report: Our Clients, Our World, Our Communities and Our People. The report is prefaced with a section titled Honoring Our Heritage, which details the legacy created by the late Dan Edelman and the ways in which that legacy provided us with the foundation on which we are building a shared future of global citizenship.

What were the main challenges in preparing the sustainability report?

There is no perfect formula for achieving the goals we have set for ourselves and when we do not meet those goals we must remain transparent while pushing forward with renewed focus. We acknowledge that there was a nine percent increase in our overall carbon emissions in FY13. We also know that our annual growth was 11.9 percent and that it can be a challenge to substitute face-to-face interaction with video conference technology in a field so driven by human relationships. We can look at the bigger picture and see that our carbon intensity per employee decreased three percent from FY12 and that more and more of our offices have joined our efforts to reduce our global carbon footprint. We accept the challenges that are associated with our role as Global Citizens and will remain open and transparent as we continue navigating our way through those challenges as we strive to achieve our sustainability goals.

For more information about Edelman and its sustainable development initiatives, visit its website and its profile page on the GRI website.

In the past month, Commerzbank, a German financial services company also featured its report through the Featured Reports service. To read a short interview with this organization and to find out more about its GRI reporting practices, follow this link.

GRI’s Featured Reports service enables organizations from around the world to showcase their GRI sustainability reports, and allows people to access reports based on the GRI Reporting Framework. The Featured Reports service is a paid-for promotional service that provides organizations with a high visibility platform for their reports. The benefits of this service include the display of the report on GRI’s website and a prominent place on the Sustainability Disclosure Database. The inclusion of a report is in no way intended as an endorsement by GRI of an organization’s sustainability reporting or performance.

GRI offers special discounts for the Featured Reports service for Organizational Stakeholders and for reporters who have gone through a GRI Application Level Check. If you want exposure for your GRI report, take a look at the Featured Reports service pages for more information on the process and pricing.