The Code can be used by large and small, public and private companies, organisations with and without pre-existing sustainability reporting, capital market-oriented companies and companies that wish to inform stakeholders about their corporate achievements in the area of sustainability.
It also offers first-time reporters guidance with introducing sustainability management by posing questions regarding the relevant areas of action. The standard can serve as an instrument for helping to determine responsibilities and identify material aspects. As the next step, the status quo can be reported on and processes can be gradually further developed.
The Code database serves the reporting companies and organisations as a data management system. To comply with the Sustainability Code, users prepare a declaration of conformity to its 20 criteria and the supplementary non-financial performance indicators of the GRI or EFFAS. Once the key information and figures have been added to a company’s profile, formal completeness is checked by the Code Office. This ensures that the minimum sustainability reporting requirements are met. A declaration is published once it is deemed complete in accordance with the “comply or explain” approach. This makes a company’s sustainability achievements visible and more reliably transparent. Thanks to the database’s comparison function, the reports can also be compared at the level of individual criteria. What’s more, regular reporting can highlight a company’s or organisation’s development in the area of sustainability achievements.
Users incorporate their Code declaration into their communications as evidence for their customers and suppliers and as an internal management tool; investors evaluate sustainable lending based on the declarations. Reporting in accordance with the Code and the formal check are free of charge.
Sustainable business practice should be a matter of course, but again and again it presents companies and organisations with concrete implementation challenges in their day-to-day activities. In the face of daily global competition, industry and market-oriented solutions are a prerequisite for business success. Policymakers are increasingly adopting guidelines as a way of steering business practice. To make the work involved for the companies and organisations as efficient as possible, the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) incorporates various political frameworks directly related to sustainability into the Sustainability Code. Specifically, this means you can use the Code to comply not only with the CSR Directive Implementation Act, but also with the core elements of human rights due diligence obligations as per the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights. The desired application level is selected in the database and the Code Office then checks the formal completeness of the legally stipulated content in addition to the Code requirements. Following publication, the preparers are awarded a Code signet which in particular explicitly attests to the more stringent application in line with the CSR reporting obligation.
The data already published can be used for scientific analyses, ratings, rankings or competitions and by financial analysts; research institutions use the entries to evaluate the relevance of individual topics within the sustainability debate. The data also allows industry associations to evaluate the challenges and opportunities for their member companies, work on industry solutions and provide the companies with appropriate support. Financial analysts can incorporate information on environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects into their company analyses. The Code can thus serve as a basis for valuation within the scope of portfolio management, for corporate bonds, in lending and for providing investors with information. The Code declaration can also be used as a submission document in competitions such as the National German Sustainability Award. In this way, the Code generates real added value for reporting companies in that they only have to publish their content once, but can nonetheless benefit from this at multiple levels.
The Code database features an application programming interface (API) that simplifies analysis. This allows data and content to be transferred between various websites, programs or databases. Stakeholders can thus read the published data and analyse and comment on it with little additional work involved.