Admind_Talks: Interview with Michał Majewski, Design Lead specializing in ESG reports

6 min read

Admind_Talks: Interview with Michał Majewski, Design Lead specializing in ESG reports

In your experience, what do you believe are the most critical considerations when initiating the design process for an ESG report?

There are a few things that are crucial in the whole process. Good planning is crucial, and it is important to bear in mind that the whole process varies in intensity depending on the stage of work. As much as possible, a detailed timeline, which includes all stakeholders, is crucial. And of course executing that plan, sticking to it, is important. In this process, not everything can be done in parallel, so if someone has a delay, it can affect the other participants in the process. When we think about planning, feedback mechanisms are something that we should mention. Including mechanisms for stakeholders to provide feedback on the design and usability of the report will make the whole process easier for all participants. Proper feedback flow can inform future iterations of the design and improve stakeholder satisfaction. Very important is also clarity and accessibility. As we prepare a document with a lot of data, ensuring the report is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and accessible to a wide audience is essential. Using clear headings, concise language, and visual elements such as charts, graphs, and infographics to enhance readability and comprehension should help here. It is worth mentioning that choosing appropriate visualization techniques to highlight trends, patterns, and relationships in the data makes the report easier for stakeholders to interpret and analyze. Of course, at the same time, we can’t forget about the consistency of implemented branding. It is important to maintain consistency throughout the report to reinforce brand identity and professionalism. This brand consistency helps create a cohesive and unified presentation.

Today we have more and more opportunities to use interactive features. We often incorporate such elements like clickable links, interactive charts, and multimedia content to enhance user engagement and facilitate exploration of ESG information. Interactive elements can provide additional context and depth to the report. Especially in the context of Environmental, Social, and Governance reports, sustainability in printing and distribution should be considered. If producing physical copies of the report, consider sustainability in printing and distribution processes. Use recycled paper, eco-friendly printing methods, and minimize packaging to reduce environmental impact. The important question is do we need printed copies at all? Or maybe we can limit it to less, but more prestigious, copies. When we speak about the digital version, we should keep in mind the accessibility. We have to ensure the digital version of the report is accessible to individuals with disabilities by adhering to accessibility standards such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). We can provide alternative text for images, captions for multimedia content, and keyboard navigation options.

How do you approach the challenge of visually presenting complex ESG data in a way that is both engaging and easily comprehensible for stakeholders?

Here’s how we approach it – we always follow a few rules. We start by understanding the audience’s level of familiarity with ESG reports concepts and data. We have to tailor visualizations to match their knowledge level, ensuring that they can grasp the information presented. To proceed with that, we try to work on simplifying complexity. We break down, if possible, complex ESG data into smaller, digestible components. We use visualizations (like mentioned before charts, graphs, or diagrams) to simplify data while still conveying key insights. Avoiding overwhelming stakeholders with too much information at once is something we try to do. Also thinking about simplifying complexity, we try to focus on key metrics by highlighting the most important ESG metrics, for example, that align with the organization’s goals and stakeholder interests. We then prioritize these metrics in visualizations to ensure stakeholders can quickly identify and understand the most critical aspects of ESG performance. Another thing that can help in presenting complex data is telling a story. We should use visualizations to tell a cohesive and compelling story about a company’s ESG performance.

When we connect the data points to broader themes, initiatives, and outcomes, it helps stakeholders to see the impact of your efforts in a meaningful way. Also, we always try to present ESG data in multiple formats to accommodate different stakeholder preferences and needs. We offer a combination of static visuals, interactive dashboards, and narrative reports to cater to varying levels of engagement and expertise. When more often digital versions of reports are prepared, we can also consider animation. Animating data diagrams can help to present complex data in a more understandable way. When using the digital version, for example, as a landing page, we can empower stakeholder exploration by providing opportunities to explore the data on their own terms. We can offer interactive features such as filters, drill-down capabilities, and tooltips that allow users to delve deeper into the data and uncover insights relevant to their interests. Last but not least, we have to remember about iterations and seeking feedback. During the whole process, we must continuously iterate on visualizations based on stakeholder feedback and testing. We care to solicit input from diverse perspectives to ensure that our visualizations are accessible and resonate with the audience.

In the collaborative process of creating an ESG report, what role and responsibilities do you see for the client or the entity commissioning the project? How can their active involvement contribute to the overall success of the report?

The client should clearly define the objectives, scope, and audience of the ESG report. This includes identifying key stakeholders and their expectations, as well as determining the material issues to be addressed. We always try to help, at the initial stage of collaboration, to define those elements as it is crucial for the further success of the whole process. Of course, the client is responsible for providing accurate and comprehensive data and information related to their ESG performance. It is worth mentioning that this applies to the whole process and not just the beginning, the kick-off stage. The client should be actively engaged throughout the whole process to gather feedback, address concerns, and ensure alignment with stakeholder interests. This involvement fosters transparency, trust, and credibility. What can help here is to appoint a single person as a point of contact. This can make the whole process clearer, and information may be filtered to avoid misunderstandings.

The client knows the best corporate strategy. Because of that, the client should ensure that the ESG report is integrated with their overall corporate strategy and business objectives. Consistency with the general strategy is something where we cannot fully support without client insight knowledge. We always encourage the client’s active involvement throughout the ESG report preparation process and contribute to the overall success of the report. By providing accurate insights and reviewing draft versions of the report, the client helps enhance the accuracy and credibility of the ESG report, thereby increasing its trustworthiness. Overall, the client’s active involvement is essential for creating an ESG report that is meaningful, credible, and impactful.

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