We don’t talk about Bruno is Disney’s lesson for corporate transparency

We Don’t Talk about Bruno“, a song from the soundtrack of the new Disney movie Encanto, is currently riding high at number 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 list.

Encanto is a story of the Madrigals, a Latino family with super powers forbidden to talk about Uncle Bruno who has catastrophic visions about what is a perfect and powerful family.

As this is something no one wants to hear, Bruno isolates himself and the family continues their life until… well, I don’t want to provide any spoilers.

Watch the movie or listen to the song. You may find it surprising, but for me the theme of this movie has strong parallels with sustainability reporting.

If companies are to take accountability for their impacts on people and planet, they need to accept and talk about the whole spectrum of their impacts, the good and the bad.

Like the Madrigal family, many organizations focus mostly on the positives, those achievements that are much easier to discuss. Negatives tend to be minimized or ignored because, as the Madrigals would say, “No se Habla de Bruno”.

Talking about Bruno is a crucial step to present an accurate overview of the management of an organization, and to demonstrate how sustainable practices are being integrated.

A balanced sustainability report by the GRI Standards, reflects a solid relationship process with stakeholders and a deep understanding of the impacts that the firm generates.

It is also a commitment to ethics and coherence.

Talk about Bruno recommendations

Carefully consider the design and language used

Present information in a easy to follow and transparent way, which allows users to clearly track the positive and negative inter-annual impacts trends of the company.

Separate opinions from facts

Clearly distinguish between evidenced facts and stats, and where the organization interprets and describes them.

What you say is as important as what you don’t say

Be careful not to omit relevant information, particularly challenging insights into negative impacts.

Tell the good and the bad

Do not overemphasize only positive news and impacts. To be credible and believable, stakeholders are looking for balanced reporting.

Ethics in reporting

Ensure that you avoid presenting information in a way that could inappropriately influence the conclusions or assessments of report users.

Talking about Bruno is vital as transparency builds confidence in decision makers. Stake holders know that companies and people aren’t perfect and don’t expect only positive impacts.

Investors, employees, clients and civil society want to understand what the organization’s impacts are, how they are being assessed, what the plans are to mitigate them, and how knowledge of these impacts are being used in business strategy.

As the Madrigals discovered, facing up to your flaws is challenging but makes you stronger.

So, make sure your 2022 sustainability report is a balanced one, with honesty and openness about the good and the bad. Not only will it help you build trust with your stakeholders, it can also signpost the way towards a more sustainable and successful future.

Andrea Pradilla is Director of the Global Reporting Initiative’s regional office for Hispanic America, based in Bogota, with responsibility for promoting sustainability reporting throughout the region by engaging with companies, capital markets and other stakeholders.