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Sep 30, 2021

Telling your ESG story beyond the sustainability report: Deutsche Post DHL's ESG statbook

IR Magazine profiles different channels for ESG communications

Across a series of articles, we look at case studies from investor relations teams that have held an ESG investor day, launched an ESG statbook, discussed ESG on the earnings call and released a thematic report on a single sustainability topic. Are you trying anything else? Get in touch and let us know.

For several years, Deutsche Post DHL has produced an IR statbook, covering areas such as the balance sheet, P&L and cashflow. Updated each quarter, it provides a single location to get all the key information about the business.

It also draws a line around what the company is willing to share with the market. ‘If you are asking for anything more, you’re not going to find it,’ says Martin Ziegenbalg, executive vice president and head of investor relations at the delivery company.

Earlier this year, in an overhaul of Deutsche Post’s ESG strategy and sustainability reporting, the company decided to create an ESG statbook as well. The booklet includes all the ESG KPIs the firm thinks are important.

‘We’re not trying to bend over backwards to make each and every bizarre rating and ranking out there happy,’ says Ziegenbalg. For the information deemed relevant to the business, however, Deutsche Post is ‘happy to provide that in a condensed format,’ he says.

Functional in nature, the ESG statbook is an Excel spreadsheet featuring tabs that cover environmental, social and governance data. Users will find information such as carbon emissions for the company’s vehicle fleet and employee engagement data, with the figures going back five years.

There are also tabs dedicated specifically to the GRI and SASB reporting standards. Ziegenbalg says these two options were included because they appear to hold the most weight among investors. When Deutsche Post doesn’t report against one of the standards’ data points, it includes a sentence explaining why.

Statbooks save time by avoiding the need to respond to common questions, says Ziegenbalg. Analysts know what information is available and where to find it. In addition, because the location of the data in the spreadsheet stays the same, they can even plumb it straight into their models. For example, headcount for a particular division will always be in the same cell, he says.

The launch of the statbook came amid a broad rethink of Deutsche Post’s approach to sustainability. Over the previous year, the company had identified a new set of ESG KPIs for the business, including science-based targets for cutting C02 emissions across its fleet of more than 10,000 cars and 250 planes.

It launched the new ESG strategy in March 2021 and, at the same time, reworked its sustainability reporting. Rather than produce a separate sustainability report, as it had done previously, Deutsche Post included its ESG information in the annual report. It released the ESG statbook and an ESG presentation to act as supplements to the annual report.

Looking to the future, Deutsche Post plans to develop the ESG statbook alongside its sustainability reporting. The company is working on TCFD reporting and that is something that may be reflected in the statbook, says Ziegenbalg. The business has also identified additional ESG KPIs to report on, but wants to improve the quality of the information first. ‘That’s now being prepared, so I would expect a couple of further KPIs to be added,’ he says. 

Based on feedback from the buy side, Ziegenbalg says he doesn’t think there are many other ESG statbooks out there. But investors seem to like the idea. ‘They said, That’s perfect – we wish everyone was doing that,’ he notes.

This is an extract of an article that was published in the Fall 2021 issue of IR Magazine. Click here to read the full article.