Gone are the days when a company could be considered a leader in sustainability simply by relegating the topic to an inconspicuous section of its website or by publishing a regular report.


And that’s not a knock on sustainability reporting. As noted in my last post, Domtar is an active participant in the practice. In fact, it’s heartening to see the majority of large companies today voluntarily providing this information.


However, today’s stakeholders want to truly engage with a company’s story, especially when it comes to sustainability — and they want to do it on their own terms, with clickable, personalized information.


That’s where Domtar’s award-winning digital tool, The Paper Trail®, comes in. As an industry-leading transparency tool, the site gives users an understanding of where their paper comes from and what it takes to manufacture it, often in a way quite different from your run-of-the-mill sustainability report.


Over the last four years, we’ve learned a few things about making our sustainability story more relatable and interesting. So if you’re looking to supplement existing information your company produces, whether sustainability-related or not, consider the following:


  1. Recognize both strengths and weaknesses. Customers are smart, and there’s one thing they won’t tolerate: inauthenticity. If you want people to read about your company’s initiatives, you need to show them that you’re serious about improving (and not just touting your achievements). So while The Paper Trail highlights Domtar’s strong suits, it also notes those areas we’re looking to improve upon. After all, customers realize no company is perfect, so why pretend to be?
  2. Take it to a micro level. The status quo is for companies tout their corporate-level accomplishments, often because that’s where the most meaningful impacts can be demonstrated. However, when you’re trying to reach a general audience, the micro level is often more interesting than the macro data. For example, users of The Paper Trail can view the estimated impacts of a paper order down to a single ream of office paper. Given this scenario is relatable to just about everyone, the average user leaves the site able to make more informed choices about his or her real-life purchase decisions.
  3.  Don’t forget about the people. Environmental factors are critical, but to bring data to life, you need to showcase the people who are making it all possible: your employees. That’s why we’ve added social impacts to our The Paper Trail in 2015. Across North America, our employees are hosting recycling initiatives, teaching sustainability classes at schools and supporting charitable causes within their communities. And even though those efforts may not be quantifiable, they’re still important, which is why the site includes over 80 stories from our mills that are focused on the positive impacts Domtar has in the communities where we operate.


In a world where customers are increasingly concerned about sustainability issues, it’s smart business to show them how you stand out from the pack. Some of the best ways we’ve found for doing this include being transparent and providing usable, relatable content. Not only does this build trust, it also helps your company be viewed as a credible and reliable resource on the topic.


To learn more about The Paper Trail, please visit www.domtarpapertrail.com.