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Assignment:Recognised as a leading reporter internationally and in South Africa, Sasol continues to set the benchmark for reporting excellence. Sasol’s 2012 annual integrated report was ranked joint first in the world by e.com ReportWatch, the respected international rating agency, and 5th in the 2013 E&Y Excellence in Integrated Reporting awards. In 2013, Sasol continued to improve its application of integrated reporting principles, specifically in view of the Consultation Draft of the International Integrated Reporting Framework. Sasol is part of the International Integrated Reporting Committee’s pilot programme.
As in previous years, the annual integrated report, including summarised financial information, was positioned as the primary report, containing a high-level and fully integrated strategic analysis of the Group’s strategy, performance and prospects, catering for a broad stakeholder readership. The annual financial statements, including the full chief financial officer’s report, corporate governance report and other statutory reports were published separately, for specialist readers. Together, these two publications comprised the Sasol annual report, published in accordance with JSE requirements. The sustainable development report was published as a supplementary report for readers with a specific interest in sustainability related information.
ApproachAs in previous years, the challenge in producing Sasol’s suite of reports remains one of ensuring that the large amount of material information about a complex business with many operating companies is synthesised in such a way as to tell the Sasol story simply, understandably and comprehensively. Given the excellent feedback received on the 2012 report, and the need to convey strategic consistency and the systematic progress made since the previous year, only subtle refinements were made to the structure and content (to improve the application of the international integrated reporting principles) and to the design.
In terms of design, the 2013 report followed closely the design concept created the year before in close collaboration with the then newly appointed chief executive officer. As in past years, the design concept was constrained within a strict corporate identity, which limits the use of colour. The foldout cover was employed again, to allow the comprehensive detail that introduces the report to be dealt with ahead of the first page, which customarily sets out the story (and material storylines for the year) in relation to the report theme. The theme, which remained the same as in the previous year, “Better together… we deliver”, was again explicitly pulled through the report, most specifically in leadership’s analysis and the focus stories. A great deal of design time was again given to information design, specifically in refining the contextual pages. These convey a wealth of information, including comment, diagrams and data, which all need to be connected in terms of integrated reporting best practice. A coated paper was again used to enhance the look and feel, given the importance of photography in illustrating the breadth and scale of Sasol’s global operations.
A consistent system of cross-referencing icons, together with large, bold figures and pull quotes served to hold the reader’s attention and to assist them in finding the information they need across the different publications. As the look and feel of the annual financial statements is recognised by readers as being extremely effective. As such, we did not substantially change the design, apart from aligning it to the refinements made in the integrated report. Given the size of the annual financial statements, we printed on uncoated stock as in the past, to keep the book lighter and more manageable. As a supporting publication, the sustainable development report followed the same design concept as the integrated report, and was printed on an environmentally friendly paper.
Results:Sasol’s suite of reports has again been well received by both the client team and external stakeholders. The feedback applauds not only the disclosure and analysis they provide, but also their accessible presentation of complex information. The readable narrative of the integrated report is especially well regarded, and specifically, the integrated business model we created for Sasol has been held up as international best practice.