Led by the global giants of #CSR (# signifies i have become a twitterer, and am now compelled to #tag #everything as i #write) , the concept that producing one annual, all-embracing, total coverage, general, global CSR report by MNE's (Multinational Enterprises) is inadequate to reach the hearts and minds of local stakeholders, is gaining momentum. Spurred on by the desire to reach out to those closest to the local hubs of activity, the Localization Leaders are illunimating the way for other MNE's to follow. Who are the Localization Leaders?
Intel: Intel now produce a variety of local reports to serve local stakeholders. You can even read how Suzanne Fallender describes Intel's approach "Many people continue to criticize CSR reports for being too long, detailed and boring for most stakeholders to read. When you combine that sentiment with the challenges of explaining your corporate responsibility performance in multiple languages and cultures and your impact at the local level, it is clear that one size does not fit all."
Take a trip to Israel, Russia, Ireland, Europe or Middle East Region.
Vodafone: You just cant top Vodafone. Check out their download page - 13 superb looking local CR reports in addition to the global report. From Portugal to Italy, and Malta to New Zealand, Volafone are master localizers.
Telefonica SA are excellent localizers too. They published 17 CR reports in 2008. A wide range of Latin American Telefonica subsidiaries published only in Spanish, but i guess thats ok, verdad?
General Electric are partial localizers. They translate their global report into several languages. If they used their (eco)imagination a little more, they might realize that adding a little local content would make for a more relevant report.
Motorola Inc is a local localizer. They publish an excellent report in Israel (disclosure: I assured it!) but I believe this is their only localization effort.
Then there are several pseudo localizers - those who add it little tidbits of local color into their global report. There are many companies who do this. This just gives us fragmented impressions of local impacts, and usually only the nice, bright colors.
So what about all the rest ? I can hear the big sigh of relief when a global report is published - phew! that's that for another year! - but surely the core aim of reporting is to engage stakeholders? And to do this by telling them stories about the work life balance of employees in another hemisphere is not all that engaging. Further, how do you write a global report? Bottom up or top down? There has to be local input into a global report - so formalizing this and creating a localized disclosure requirement - however minimal - is actually good basic practise for ensuring a balanced and representative global effort.
If you are a local stakeholder of an MNE operating in your country, demand to see their local report. Chances are they aint got one yet, but just in case they do, remember the words of that wonderful woman, Maya Angelou, who said: Ask for what you want, and be prepared to get it. Or something like that. I think she was referring to Chunky Monkey. But it could also apply to CR reports.
elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at: www.b-yond.biz/en