CSR Reporting comes in for its fair share of flack. The love them-hate them syndrome is no stranger to the CSR Report. If I were a CSR Report, I would move around with a bodyguard, just in case (whatisname from the movie with Whitney Houston would do just fine). If I were a CSR Report, I would probably need ongoing psychotherapy as I would constantly be questioning the reason for my existence. If I were a CSR Report, I would probably never get invited to the best parties. (Ok, apparently I AM a CSR Report).
But despite being something that everybody loves to hate, CSR Reports and CSR reporting (yes, there is a difference) generates a lot of BUZZ in cyberspace. Here are some of the recent star appearances of CSR Reports-ing over the first few weeks of the new decade.
Reports on Reports
CSR Trends 3
An excellent publication at end 2009 with insights about corporate responsibility reporting trends from around the world. The report is split into sections covering focus, credibility, content, performance and accessibility, and uses examples from some of the finest reports around to make the point. A very good piece of research and a well written document. You can also view it online.
CSR Report assurance of social indicators in CAC40 listed Companies by http://www.csr-europe.org/ . A good review of who is reporting on what and how in Europe.
How to read a corporate social responsibility report by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. The BCCC says that CSR reports are intended to portray the relationship between coporations and society. This comprehensive user-guide looks at just about everything you need to know in developing a CSR report, intended to assist first timers.
Top 7 Sustainability Practices - a white paper by SDialogue. The report includes CSR / Sustainability reporting as a key practice (number 6).
Blops on Reporting
(for the uninitiated, a Blop is a blog post - my invention. Neat, huh?)
The Value of Storytelling - by Ashley Jablow on theChangebase.com. Ashley's blop runs the theme that a CSR Report shouldn't focus just on impacts - it should tell stories. Interesting post which generated many responses - but not many stories. Ha-Ha.
Responsible Policy by Dr Michael Groves on Accountancy Age.com. Dr Groves says that a CSR report is just another piece of "corporate wallpaper" or a "duvet hiding all manner of governance failings". Guess he's a fan, right ? But he also goes on to make some very astute points which you can read for yourself.
And a post which neatly pulled these two together and distills the key points, called Telling the Story of Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting by Chris Jarvis at Realized Worth. Chris always cuts to the chase.
What to report on ? How two CSR Leaders decide - by Cindy Mehallow on Triple Pundit. Cindy, an experienced reporter, gives her advice on four ways CSR reporting can add value. Well worth a look.
CSR Reports Who's reading them and is that the point? - by Marcus Chung. Marcus, an experienced CSR practitioner and reporter asks if CSR reports are the best way to communicate. I wonder who hasn't already asked that question.
From online CSR report to online CSR reporting - blog post by James Osborne of Lundquist. James identifies three different models of online CSR reports.
Should sustainability reporting be mandatory ? a BSR debate blog post. A good summary of the usual arguments for and against mandatory transparency following the US Securities and Exchange Commission's issue of guidelines for disclosure of climate-related risks. My take is that madatory transparency has the potential to drive major improvement in sustainability performance, through, of course, there will be ups and downs along the way.
The CSR Reporting Journey - from PRNewswire. This is an extract from a PRNewswire guide to CSR Reporting written by Ashley Barwig and raises questions such as who is actually writing the report, what has been the point of reporting in the past and what would reporting look like if it were not the end point ? Good questions. Ashley also supplies the answers.
CSR Goals, Reporting and Unethical Behaviours by Courtney Zegarsky on her Social Endeavours blog, who suggests that goal articulation in CSR Reports may boomerang to create unethical behaviours in the organization. Hmm. I hold a different view. Forme, one of the critical added value elements of reporting is precisely the public commitment to such goals - though if the organization is badly managed, or internally conflicted, then anything they do could be a patform for negative organizational outcomes, whatever they put in their CSR Report. Unless they use Chunky Monkey as a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
10 best practices for writing a great CSR Report from Environmentalleader.com. This post summarized the Boston College report mentioned above.
And then of course there were my own recent contributions In search of the perfect CSR report on the GRI Blog and the piece by Olivia Khalili in CauseCapitalism Doing Good Only Gets You So Far. In fact, Olivia writes one of the best blogs around - you should follow it avidly, as I do.
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