Is The Best Policy For CSR
new report shows that companies should admit that Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) is really for their business’s benefit.
report, from Parker, Wayne and Kent PR, argues that PR companies can best
overcome public cynicism and charges of “greenwashing” by striving for
honesty in the communication of their motives and by adhering to rigorously
empirical reporting standards.
‘The public are wise to the hollow claims of businesses who insist that their
CSR policies are implemented solely for the public good, and not for any
additional business benefits,’ said Rob Jessel, the report’s author.
‘Organisations need to be open about the reasons why they are undertaking a
CSR programme. Doing so helps to bridge the credibility gap between PR and the
public, especially when people are aware that PROs are always partisan to their
The report refutes the notion that the public are invariably cynical to CSR
announcements, citing a recent Ipsos MORI poll, which found that eight out of
ten respondents expressed a desire for companies to spend money on publicly
communicating their CSR strategies.
Tellingly, in recent statements both Cadbury and Mars both made reference to the
business benefits of moving towards, respectively, Fairtrade and
The report concludes that, while companies should
be honest about their motives of self-interest, this does not relieve them of
the responsibility to report measurable results from their CSR policies. It also
recommends that companies including external voices within their reporting,
including stakeholder criticism, to incur further credibility.
‘CSR reporting should be treated with the same degree of rigorousness as, say,
financial reporting. Too many businesses are failing to include detailed
indicators, benchmarks, targets, trends and case studies,’ said Jessel.
‘Companies should adhere to recognised reporting structures, such as the
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and AccountAbility’s reporting standard,
AA1000, to ensure that their claims for their CSR successes are backed up by
about motives, and rigorous reporting and evaluation methods are the cornerstone
or any successful CSR policy,’ concluded Jessel.
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