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Consultants Warn of Web-Report Pitfalls

The growing demand for environmental and social impact information and news online is creating more problems than solutions for Web-wise corporations, a new report suggests.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Next Step Consulting Ltd., communications, policy and strategy specialists, have published a guide for organizations wanting to deliver the environmental, social and economic impacts of their activities online.

The report, Environmental, Social and Sustainability Reporting on the World Wide Web: A Guide to Best Practices, highlights how the Internet should be used for sustainability reporting, gives practical examples and reveals the "Seven Deadly Sins" of Web-based reporting.

The biggest no-nos for Internet reports are:
  1. Using unwieldy files that can take more than an hour to download;
  2. Hiding information deep within the Web site;
  3. Failing to promote the site; and
  4. Discouraging feedback and discussion.
However the most common mistake is assuming that your entire audience can read the company’s electronic news online when failing to remember that only 2% of the world’s population has access to the Internet.

“An increasing number of organizations are reporting their environmental and social impact information on the World Wide Web,” said Rachel Jackson, ACCA’s environmental and social manager.

To reflect this development ACCA, which manages the United Kingdom's national awards for sustainability reporting, has published criteria to judge Web-based entrants. These include the need for web reports to be clear, accessible and tailored to meet the needs of different stakeholder groups.

As well as publishing the new criteria, the guide is designed to show best practices and help organizations avoid the pitfalls of Web-based reporting.

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