We don’t talk about Bruno: Disney’s surprising lessons for corporate transparency

By Andrea Pradilla, Director of GRI Hispanic America

“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 tells the story of the Madrigals, a Latino family with super powers, where it is forbidden to talk about the mysterious Uncle Bruno. Bruno has catastrophic visions about what is, at first glance, 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 won’t regret it!

You may find it surprising, but for me the theme of this movie has strong parallels with sustainability reporting. If companies are to effectively reflect on and take accountability for their impacts on people and planet, they need to be prepared 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”.

While difficult, reporting on negative impacts — ‘talking about Bruno’ — is a crucial step in order to present an accurate overview of the management of an organization, and to demonstrate how sustainable practices are being integrated. A balanced sustainability report, as supported by the GRI Standards, reflects a solid relationship process with stakeholders and a deep understanding of the impacts that the company generates. It is also a commitment to ethics and coherence.

Some specific recommendations to ensure you ‘talk about Bruno’ in your 2022 sustainability reports — with balanced disclosure that fully reflect impacts — include:

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.

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

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

Do not overemphasize only positive news and impacts. To be credible and believable, stakeholders are looking for balanced 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 important because transparency builds confidence in decision makers. Stakeholders know that neither companies nor people are perfect, so they 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 shortcomings is challenging but it can make you stronger. So, make sure your 2022 sustainability report is a balanced one, with honesty and openness about all impacts. 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. Prior to joining GRI in 2014, Andrea was head of the Colombian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism.

Earlier in her career, Andrea worked in international development for organizations based in Washington DC. She has a MSc in Foreign Service from Georgetown University (USA) and a Degree in Law from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia). She serves on the boards of various non-profits and is an Adjunct Professor of Corporate Sustainability, CESA Business School (Colombia).

En la temporada de reportes de sostenibilidad 2022 ¡Por Favor Hablemos de Bruno!

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
GRI

GRI is the independent international organization that helps businesses and other organizations communicate and understand their sustainability impacts.