Your sustainability program is only as good as the story you tell

The role of design in a successful CSR strategy

Amy Glaiberman
3 min readAug 13, 2018

Corporate Sustainability Reporting (CSR) professionals strive for better data and materiality, but their programs can’t have impact until communicated effectively. Design, it turns out, is just as important as transparency.

Connecting with key audiences, creating empathy, shaping perceptions — the core components of any good user-centered design effort — are critical to an effective CSR program. Good design goes beyond the typical “make it look good” agenda. It helps you position key stories and bring them to life while demonstrating industry leadership as it aligns with your company’s social and environmental commitments.

User-centered design enables you to strategically connect the audiences you target and the communication solutions you choose to produce. There are many competing audiences for a CSR program, and a generic report can quickly become a ‘one-size-fits-none’ solution. With smart design, you can effectively connect with analysts searching for nitty-gritty details, customers seeking information on sourcing relationships, or stakeholders needing to understand your alignment to SDGs.

At Celery, we use a three-step process for user-centered design: identify key audience groups and better understand their motivations; extract stories of impact that will shape perceptions and align with your company’s commitments; and craft an effective communications plan to execute against.

Celery has years of experience guiding companies through the reporting and communications process while building awareness and support for sustainability leadership. It doesn’t matter if your company is in the very beginning stages of a CSR journey or continuing a more mature strategy, user-centered design communication is key. They allow your company to be proactive while demonstrating long-term value and risk mitigation.



Celery plays an integral role in the way Hasbro positions their CSR strategy and communicates their story. Year after year they have won numerous awards for transparency and diligence. It is always a fun challenge to combine the intrinsic complications of a toy and game company while showcasing fun iconic brands we grew up with. We create a variety of communications ranging from employee engagement to consumer facing sites.


HP has long been a leader in sustainability, they were one of the first tech companies to start capturing data and report on sustainability. For the past 12 years, Celery has guided HP’s strategic reporting journey through mergers, acquisitions, and splits, while being sensitive to the implications each has on the triple bottom line. We successfully transitioned HP from a single monolithic document to a sophisticated multi-media campaign. An ongoing challenge has always been to untangle the overly complex details of a tech company‘s supply chain. We found that creating infographics with multiple levels of detail allows users to understand the high level impact with options for more comprehensive read.

Farmer Brothers

Farmer Brothers — a leading roaster and distributor of coffees, teas, and spices — began their reporting journey 7 years ago. Celery helped them gradually break into reporting, communicate their goals, and establish a foundation. As the company’s sustainability program matured they we able to transition to a more robust communications strategy. Showcasing integrated sourcing stories and how they’re creating value, while also demonstrating the ways in which zero waste has become a reality at many facilities. In 2017, Farmer Brothers became the first coffee-focused company to adopt science-based targets.