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How to Read a Corporate Social Responsibility Report: A User’s Guide

Domini Chief Investment Officer Steve Lydenberg, in collaboration with David Wood of the Institute for Responsible Investment, has published How to Read a Corporate Social Responsibility Report: A User's Guide (PDF).

Before 1992, corporate reports detailing the company's impact on society and ecosystems were relatively unknown. By 2008, however, more than 3,300 companies worldwide were publishing annual "CSR" or "sustainability" reports, which range from highly detailed reports to slim glossy brochures.

Because these reports are generally produced on a voluntary basis, their quality remains highly inconsistent. They often contain extremely valuable information, however, that can help investors, companies, and communities make better decisions together about our shared future. How to Read a Corporate Social Responsibility Report is a practical guide for those who want to gain the most benefit from these reports, providing helpful tips to both reporters and readers.

The guide discusses the dramatic increase in CSR reporting, lists the many purposes the reports serve, describes and examines the features of a thorough CSR report, and surveys standards and programs that assess and recognize CSR initiatives.

"With CSR reports becoming longer, more numerous, and often more confusing," writes Steve Lydenberg, "this guide can help identify the issues, data, and interpretations that are most meaningful."