Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Report or be reported.

Ok, so i promised a post on self-declaring. Rain check till next post. Please.

Because i had this thought: report or be reported.

It is possible to consider sustainability reporting as a from of pre-empt. Because what a corporation doesn't report, someone else apparently will. This thought came as my inbox was bombarded with details of new reports, surveys and studies about the corporate responsibilty of businesses.

For example:

Interbrands 2008 Value of Brands report - a great read - with an interesting view of brand value link to sustainability.

The 2009 corporate equality index - about the way businesses address Human Rights.
Wal-mart scored a whopping 40%, losing out mainly on gender discrimination practices.
Nokia scored 50% - losing out on diversity training, LGBT equality and support and other benefits for same and opposite sex partenrs.

Nokia's 2007 CR report says " In 2007, 71% of employees participating in our annual employee survey felt that all employees of Nokia are treated as individuals regardless of age, race, gender or physical capabilities - an increase of 2% from 2006. We also conducted a survey in 2007 to find out how our policies on inclusion affect our employees' work lives. We are implementing an action plan on diversity across all business units. " If i were Mrs Nokia, I would challenge the 2009 euality index score.

So many aspects of corporations and their non-financials are under scruting today, so many surveys, so many comparisons and benchmarks, so many corporate-watch type websites, so many brand and reputation indices ... that the only way a Corporation can tell the comprehensive story about its performance and balance the spectrum of data is through the CSR report. Typically, surveys and benchmarks are focussed on specific aspects of a corporation's activity. Often, these are taken out of context and stacked up against a set of external parameters.

The CSR report is an opportunity to establish context, balance and perspective in reporting data. Clearly, the report should be authentic and tell the truth. It should include the good news and the not-so- good news . (Ok, bad news). But the ability to present all this data in CONTEXT and with PERSEPCTIVE and in line with the Corporations objectives is valuable.

Take the Nokia example above. With so many Companies achieving 100% in the equality index, many of whom i do not associate with a good human rights record, Nokia's 50% was a shocker. Wal-mart didnt surprise me all that much, but Nokia did. And as i read Nokia's CR report, I see that they are undertaking substantial work on Human Rights, Diversity and Gender. Whichever source I choose to believe, the fact is that Nokia has pre-empted a position in context on this issue which balances external reports about their conduct.

So, report or be reported. Pre-empt or be pre-empted. Proact or be proacted. (Hmm, does that work ?). This post is a pre-empt for all those who maintain that CSR reporting is just about PR.

1 comment:

Milena said...

I get a lot of studies, reports in my inbox, too. But I ask myself which are the indicators they take into account as I assume that different methodologies can lead to different results.

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