Interview with Ina Plank: Why is sustainability reporting important?

12. October 2023

Die Expertin für Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung im Interview

Interview with Ina Plank: Why is sustainability reporting important?

Data is also the basis for all strategic decisions and operational measures in the area of sustainability. After all, in order to improve, we need to measure our performance. And this is precisely where Ina Plank, as a Sustainability Reporting Expert, feels professionally at home.

Ina Plank (née Adams) has been the “keeper of the data” in the Greiner AG sustainability team since December 2021 as Expert Sustainability Reporting. She takes care of all non-financial key figures and thus ensures that we know exactly where we stand in sustainability.

When she’s not dedicating herself to numbers, she can be found wearing a Greiner jersey at the starting line of our sponsored running events or as a member of the Greiner Polar Bears at ice swimming in the Krems River.

Ina, how would you explain your job to someone who has no idea about reporting and sustainability? 
That actually happens to me very often and is not that easy. I like to say that in principle it’s similar to reporting financial figures, except that instead of sales and costs, I deal with electricity consumption and recycling rates. In the end, both areas are about preparing and analyzing numbers to help the company measure its goals and thereby better manage them.

In your LinkedIn profile, you write that you use your love of data and reporting to drive sustainability. How exactly can data succeed in making us more sustainable as Greiner? 
With sustainability, it’s like with any other subject area: “Only what gets measured gets done.” This means that regular monitoring of progress helps us keep the focus on the essential goals. Without collecting sustainability indicators, Greiner would not be able to identify where we have the greatest potential for improvement and which measures will best drive us forward to achieve our goals. In addition to simply collecting good quality data, this also involves providing this information in a way that it can be easily interpreted.

Why are sustainability metrics as important as financial metrics when it comes to managing a business? What insights can they provide that go beyond financial aspects?  
In my opinion, every company has a responsibility to the society in which it operates. Sustainability indicators help to fulfill this responsibility. They provide the basis for a dialog with important stakeholders. As is the case with many other companies, the trend at Greiner is already emerging that the future development of key financial figures – and thus the company’s success – depends significantly on its sustainability performance. For many customers, for example, our sustainable actions are a decisive factor in deciding whether to place orders with us. I am convinced that companies that do not act sustainably or cannot demonstrate their sustainability through key figures will no longer have a raison d’être in the long term. In addition, sustainability indicators help with long-term planning and strategic alignment because they show how well a company is equipped to meet future challenges.

"The future development of our financial indicators will depend significantly on our sustainability performance, because more and more important stakeholders also want to see that we are fulfilling our responsibility to society. Our customers demand sustainability!"

Ina Plank, Expert Sustainability Reporting, Greiner AG

To what extent can sustainability indicators strengthen stakeholder trust and improve relations with customers, investors and the public? What is their significance for the company’s reputation? 
By demonstrating how the company incorporates ethical practices, environmental protection, and social responsibility into its business strategy, sustainability metrics create a foundation for credibility and integrity. Sustainability metrics are a key element in building a positive corporate reputation and strengthening relationships with various stakeholder groups. Also not insignificant is the impact of sustainability activities on employer branding. For the younger generation in particular, it is enormously important to work for an employer that also reflects their personal values.

To what extent are the upcoming new EU regulations on sustainability reporting (CSRD) an issue in your day-to-day professional life? 
The new regulations play a very important role in shaping my work. On the one hand, the companies concerned will have to cope with very extensive requirements by 2025. In particular, we have to work on the auditability of our reporting processes and the expansion of data collection. On the other hand, the CSRD helps me to argue the relevance of non-financial reporting to my colleagues.

What have been your highlights in your almost two years at Greiner? And what is the most stressful time of the year for you professionally? 
My highlight was the introduction of new software for collecting key figures. It was the first project of this magnitude that I had the privilege of managing in my professional career. The labor-intensive weeks leading up to go-live were rewarded with a lot of positive feedback, and it’s great to see how your own work has helped improve reporting. The most stressful time of the year is definitely from the beginning of February until the key figures are finally printed in the annual and sustainability report and no further changes can be made. That was at the end of March last year.