Raising the (chocolate) bar on reporting

In November 2015, Dutch chocolate maker Tony’s Chocolonely celebrated its tenth birthday. At the birthday party, attended by over 2000 Tony’s fans, the annual report for 14/15 was released. As one of the Netherlands most successful and highly visible social enterprises, this wasn’t just another annual report. Just like Tony’s ambitious goals to abolish slavery in the chocolate industry, Tony’s wanted to raise the bar for its reporting quality as well. This included the ambition of getting the report checked and approved by the sustainability reporting standard setter Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Change in Context’s Marjolein Baghuis supported Tony’s team in key steps of the reporting process.

Stakeholder engagement

Tony’s team is constantly in touch with consumers, retailers, cocoa farmers and other stakeholders, yet it had never consulted them on their expectations for their annual report. We helped draft the online survey, which generated over 2200 responses within a few weeks. An amazing response, showing the strength of the connection between Tony’s and its stakeholders. From the survey, clear themes emerged that the stakeholders wanted to read about in Tony’s report.

Materiality analysis

Analysis of the stakeholder survey and earlier discussions in Tony’s management team served as input to determine what key – or material – topics had to be covered in the report. In a working session with Tony’s managing director, this was turned into a materiality matrix to help select the focus areas for the report.

Challenging report content

The toughest part of this project was to make the report as focused and legible as possible, without losing Tony’s engaging and humorous tone of voice and its important messages about slavery in the cocoa industry. In an iterative process, we challenged Tony’s team on accuracy, clarity, overlap and focus on its true objectives and impact. The comments and questions caused Team Tony’s and the editor quite some work, which in the end led to a great report.

GRI content index

In parallel to the development of the report content, we worked with Tony’s team to create the GRI content index, which helps report readers find general and company-specific sustainability topics in the report. And just in time for the printer’s deadline, GRI granted its seal of approval on the content index and the use of its guidelines at the core level.

 

20151103_080919Change in Context’s involvement in Tony’s reporting process took about 24 hours, spread across six weeks. We supported the team through working sessions, written input to the drafts and communications with the report services team at GRI. As the deadline for the printer got closer, the pressure was on and a dedicated reporting war room was set up. Sounds daunting, yet we still enjoyed the working sessions, as there was always chocolate to enjoy – on site and to take home.

 

Tonys_Chocolonely_Eva_vierkantFeedback from Eva Gouwens, Tony’s Chocolonely’s First Lady of Chocolate and Managing Director

In this project, Marjolein’s added value was strongest in challenging our report content. She really helped us raise the bar on our report. 

 

In April 2016, the report was featured as an excellent example of reporting in a documentary on the purpose economy for Dutch public television. In September 2016, PWC Netherlands awarded Tony’s the transparency prize for social enterprises for its 14/15 report. And in November 2016, the 15/16 edition of the annual report was published. Change in Context supported Tony’s again, on materiality, content and use of the GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

 

Images courtesy of Tony’s Chocolonely and RVDA