Although we won’t see the flurry of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports for a few weeks, companies everywhere are madly finalizing reports for release on Earth Day later this month.
CSR reports have evolved from the exception to the expected – valued documents that, when done right, offer objectivity, balance and transparency. An effective CSR report can engage stakeholders in honest and relevant dialogue, building trust, demonstrating progress and openly sharing a commitment to supporting the environment, employees and communities.
That said, there are many pitfalls on the path to good CSR reporting. As we approach the CSR report season, don’t fall victim to these three:
EXCESS FLUFF: CSR reports are not a megaphone through which to scream about how nice you are. A CSR report is a place for rigor, intelligent analysis and a strong measurement and evaluation framework. Save the warm and fuzzy for your internal recognition efforts.
THROWING IN THE KITCHEN SINK: One of the hardest choices you’ll have to make is not what to include in the report, but what to leave out. It might be tempting to throw in every initiative, activity and program that you’re involved in, but without discretion, these reports can feel more like a scattered list of disjointed efforts. When pulling together your report, focus is the Holy Grail.
HIGHLIGHTING ONLY THE WINS: The first thing usually cut in CSR reports is arguably what stakeholders find most interesting – the challenges. Consumers are looking for a commitment to improvement, and they know that, like in all aspects of life, improvement does not come without some hiccups. By excluding these bumps, you risk mortgaging the trust and transparency you are working to build.
Avoiding these three CSR report hazards requires more focus and more discipline – but it is time and effort well spent. The end result will be a CSR report that strengthens credibility, increases brand reputation and matters more to consumers, investors, employees and the communities where you work.