How leading firms make their sustainability reports stand out

A couple of weeks ago questions were raised in CSR Europe LinkedIn Group on how leading firms can make their sustainability reports stand out.

Looking at my clients and research it is clear that emotional communication is becoming a strong business advantage that involves sustainability and CSR policies or strategies.

Whilst we are still far away from clear cut and proven answers and whilst CSR is still in the embryo phase (like Christian mentioned in the Group), a good way to look at sustainability in business is – possibly in combination with Social and Environmental Risk Management -, to write about how an organization:

1. drives democratic innovation,
2. has an inclusive policy,
3. builds on resilience together with its employees and other related networks,
4. and organizes its presence on Social Media.

With sustainability and CRS it is the evolvement of thinking patterns in and around an organization that show the road to success, or lack thereof, not (or till lesser extend) the marketing or sales figures.

Unfortunately, at the moment investors and market analysts are not used to look at this type of information and even less to interpeting the value and effect of changing thinking patterns in organizations.

Therefore, organizations that make sustainability or CSR part of their strategy and values, will need to change the way they communicate to their investors and market analysts. In addition, organizations must motivate their stakeholders  to educate themselves about this new type of reporting.

I was glad to get reactions from within the LinkedIn Group. The following two reactions appeared:

reaction1 : “My personal take is that, until CSR is the “extra” and it’s not mingled within the core business, investors won’t give to it that much value, not even as an intangible.”

reaction 2: “Brigit, we can’t wait to get means to motivate investors, as we can’t motivate education on consumers and clients. We have to educate them. Ok, CSR can be in a early phase but there’s a lot of work to be done and we can’t waste time thinking, we have to act more. Look at the example of rating companies and the way their politics affects to much of world’s economy. That has to change.”

My answers to these questions were:

Bruno, ‘thinking patterns’ is not the same as ‘taking time to think about something’, it is an instrument in itself.

And,

@Christian CRS is in many different forms present in unconscious believes of clients and customers, though not brought to the surface (enough) and therefore not interesting for investors (yet). For the moment, reporting on sustainability and CSR looks like an ‘extra’ to our regular and formal communication work, but in reality, patterns of sustainability thinking exists in peoples’ DNA already much longer than we think.

I am curious if there are other people who would like to share their view on this.  I’d certainly like to hear from you!

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