By Moira Conlon for CFO Magazine
Year-end reports, shareholder letters, and proxy statements are opportunities to describe what your company experienced in 2020.
Year-end reporting has always been a critical time for companies to step back and assess their achievements and shortfalls, evaluate how those results compared to the prior year and set the stage for the future. Since every crisis ends with lessons learned, innovation and reinvention, proactive companies will capitalize on this unique opportunity to step-up their year-end communications.
For many, this will mean setting a new bar for their year-end reporting best practices: new depth to earnings reports, shareholder letters, and proxy statements. These documents should consider all stakeholders who want to know more about what you experienced in 2020—the strengths and the weaknesses—and what lessons you will apply to your 2021 playbook. (See, “10 questions for crafting your 2020 year-end messaging strategy,” at the end of this article.)
Both COVID-19 and the social injustice issues of 2020 have put a bright light on the importance of strong Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices, including diversity and inclusion (D&I) and human capital management (HCM). The guiding principle this year is “actions speak louder than words” communication to all stakeholders. While more disclosure on D&I in year-end communications is expected, investors are also looking for actionable and measurable initiatives.