Assessing sustainability reports based on Quality Management principles – a preliminary review

Raine Isaksson


Purpose. In order to improve we must be able to measure and understand the results. Sustainability reports could be viewed as organisational measurements of sustainability performance. The quality of sustainability reports could be assessed based on how well they capture core sustainability aspects and how well performance is communicated. This work is a preliminary review discussing how sustainability reports are measuring and communicating sustainability and how this could be rated and improved when using Quality Management principles.

Methodology. Quality Management principles have been used to propose how sustainability could be reported with focus on core aspects and core information needed for the reader. Third year quality management students in a sustainability course have assessed publicly available sustainability reports. Separately, the author, using the proposed sustainability report rating logic, has assessed the same reports. The results are compared and discussed with the purpose of highlighting improvements for sustainability reports and improvement for critical reviews of sustainability that, among others, students could use.

Findings. The indication is that sustainability reports are not easy to interpret. The word sustainability aspect should be defined more clearly, which could be done with focus on People and Planet needs. Guidelines for analysing reports could be improved using process and customer needs focus.

Practical implications. The results form a good basis for further development of sustainability reports and the critical review of them.

Originality/value. The paper discusses a field of synergies between quality and sustainability management, which is important but still sparingly researched. 


Sustainability Reporting; Quality Management; Principles; Higher Education; Sustainability Assessment; Student learning

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