Thursday, August 20, 2009

33 Applications of a CSR report

They say the best way to beat your adversaries is to get to know them. CSR reports have many adversaries. In an attempt to get to know them, and understand how to better position the valuable process of CSR reporting, here is a list of useful applications of CSR reports which I imagine reporting adversaries could have generated. Of course, you all know that I am a strong advocate of CSR reports, and this list absolutely does not represent my personal views. Absolutely not. No way. Not. No. Anyway, here is their list:

  1. Build trust with stakeholders (just in case there is a remote possibility that they don't trust you)
  2. Increase trust with stakeholders (you built it with your first report)
  3. Demonstrate to shareholders that you are doing good things with their money (you know what's best for them)
  4. Use as basis for recommendation a bonus for the CSR Manager (you are the CSR manager)
  5. Expand CSR reports numbers so that we can be confident that climate will change
  6. Use as an audition piece for Shakespeare plays (if they can make a CSR report sound exciting, Shakespeare is a doddle)
  7. Indirectly generate business for the carbon offset industry through reporting carbon neutral operations
  8. Give journalists something else not to write about
  9. Give analysts something else not to analyse
  10. Give marcom hotshots something else not to marcom about
  11. Give CSR critics a raison d'etre (the French ones)
  12. Teach Human Resources that there is more to the business than office parties
  13. Provide justification for sitting around while you eat (more) Chunky Monkey
  14. Provide case studies for MBA programs (how to present every aspect in the business in the best possible light)
  15. Support greenwash (everyone else bashes it , and as Loretta Lyn said: if you can't be first, or best, be different )
  16. Donate spare reports for origami classes (works best in Tokyo)
  17. Offer as material for translation practice in language schools (basic level, you only need around 76 core phrases)
  18. Use as an entry point into social media (Tweet: we produced a CSR report RT : they produced a CSR report)
  19. Use to ensnare willing young graduates who don't know what working at your company is really like
  20. Bundle them all together and put them in your backpack for cross country running training (if you get tired, you can always dump them – far away so no one will know)
  21. Provide occupation for your local community (consultants, assurers, stakeholder panel participants) (strong community, strong business, right?)
  22. Ensure everyone has lots of reports to fill their bookshelves (full shelves gather less dust)
  23. Provide material for investor roadshows (so they won't notice the size of the executive bonuses)
  24. Provide material for girl scouts camps bonfires (nothing burns like a good report, except a bad report)
  25. Help your CEO defend accusations of exploitation in your supply chain (report that you audit all your outsourcing factories, it works every time)
  26. Support human rights (come on, you HAVE heard that humans have rights…)
  27. Justify the existence of the GRI (conferences alone don't cut it)
  28. Demonstrate that your organization is highly creative (distribute your report with an eco-self-destructing mechanism)
  29. Provide material for reporting blogs
  30. Provide material for reporting blogs
  31. Provide material for reporting blogs
  32. Provide material for reporting blogs (ok, carried away again)
  33. Provide material for my next post: a tutorial on HOW to READ CSR reports

because writing them is one thing, producing them is another, but reading them, well, that's like eating Chunky Monkey with chopsticks – you can pick out the chunks quite easily, but you have to work really hard to get to the true flavor.

And now we know many of the adversarial arguments relating to CSR reports, I feel much more confident that we will be able to counter these with calm, cool, clear rational justifcation for this important CSR process and communications tool. Convinced ?

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails