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12/05/09

Honesty Is The Best Policy For CSR

A new report shows that companies should admit that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is really for their business’s benefit.  

The 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 clients.’

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 sustainably-produced cocoa.

Empirical Reporting

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 solid evidence.

‘Honesty about motives, and rigorous reporting and evaluation methods are the cornerstone or any successful CSR policy,’ concluded Jessel.

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To read the full report, click here.


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About Parker, Wayne & Kent Ltd.
Parker, Wayne & Kent is a straight-talking, cerebral, multi-skilled and results orientated public relations company. For more information, please visit: http://www.pwkpr.com.  


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