Best practices in communicating corporate responsibility activities.
While reporting has become commonplace, corporate responsibility information is not reaching those who have the greatest potential for furthering a company’s corporate responsibility agenda. To better engage stakeholders, companies should make CR reporting part of an integrated CR communications strategy.
Advice from experts at BP, BSR, McDonald’s, Sun Microsystems and Xerox.
With a record number of companies around the world annually increasing staff and expenditures to publicize their corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials, the time seemed right to survey some of the most experienced practitioners in the field about how they promote CSR achievements. The goal: to learn their dos and don’ts, the musts and must-avoids. Here’s a summary of what we found.
Before corporate citizenship can become a way of acting, it must be a way of thinking, and the only way to accomplish that is to embed it fully into your brand.
Companies like Timberland, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Seventh Generation were “born” with good genes for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Each company was founded with a mission that included responsibility to the environment and community, but that is not to say it is easy for them. CSR takes constant vigilance and discipline. Companies like General Electric were not created with sustainable standards, yet they are leading the corporate world in transforming themselves and imbedding sustainability into every aspect of their business.
Investors are listening—is your company’s investor relations team prepared to talk about corporate responsibility?
A recent thomson Financial survey showed that 89 percent of institutional investors rate corporate responsibility as a primary or
secondary influence in their decision making. In North America alone, portfolio managers representing more than $13 trillion in assets take corporate responsibility concerns into consideration. Unfortunately, IROs are rarely aware of shareholder concerns in this area or how to address them when they arise.
How to talk to your boss, and others, about corporate responsibility.
Many corporate responsibility officers and their colleagues in top management have been talking past each other, unnecessarily. With a little bit of “translation” the business case for corporate responsibility—that it’s smart business and often good for society—becomes undeniable.
The first step in this dialogue has already been taken. It’s the morphing of the long-held icon, “corporate social responsibility” into corporate responsibility. That development, in itself, has helped many private-sector corporate responsibility officers make progress with both the chief financial officers and chief executive officers who have been uncomfortable with the implications of a “social corporation.”
Marketing corporate responsibility is a lot more challenging than that.
In the advertising business, Brands reign supreme. Brands, with a capital B, are organic. They grow, adapt, mature and, over time, become lasting material assets of the companies that own them. Often these Brands are “master brands” and as such are the one name behind everything the company does: Starbucks, Home Depot, Apple, and Timberland are good recent examples.
Brands like these are only now beginning to spotlight their corporate responsibility activities through marketing—in effect, using responsibility as a Brand differentiator. That’s a complicated and potentially risky undertaking. And, so far, consumers have not reacted to that message in large numbers. ”