Saturday, April 24, 2010

Softchoice - the different CSR report. Really!

Softchoice issued a "new style" CSR report. (which I picked up via Google Alert and a  press release). Well, how many times have you heard that "new-style" thing before ? New, different, groundbreaking, unique, remarkable... how many Companies think they have produced something absolutely original when really its same sort of stuff with a picture of a different kid on the cover, or a few extra links, or an e-book which takes till 2050 to download ?  STOP. Softchoice has really done it ! Their report is really "new style" . It's really different from the pack.

It's part of a suite of what Softchoice calls their "Sustain-Enable" web-based report site. The site contains a downloadable interactive ebook style PDF in the style of a spiral notebook with handwritten graphics, sketches, photes, text and links. OK. So far so good. Also, the site contains several CSR themed vids which all look interesting, though the one that intrigued me was the one called the "Tie Jacket". Watch it here and see what it's all about:

What is also interesting on the Softchoice report site is their offering of tools for readers to reapply their own learnings and proceses. You can download templates for a Supplier Green Audit, a Travel Carbon calculator, a Commuter Survey Sample, or a Light Bulb Project Plan and more. In other words, not only are Softchoice reporting their progress, they are also sharing the way they did it. This is quite unusual for a CSR report. Some Companies share policies generously in their reporting, but I must say that I have not yet come accros a report that deliberately makes a conscious choice, perhaps we should call this a Softchoice, to share their tools and processes. CEO David MacDonald says the theme of the report is about "Sharing". Yep. They live up to that. Here is the way they do it:

A creative and engaging approach to reporting ! Learn from our pitfalls  - for example, make sure you consult with people in the business before shutting off their computer automatically to save power. Some people might have different needs. Low-hanging fruit - for example, make sure you know what your electronics recycler is doing with your assets. Some of the tips are modestly self-serving for example, a You can do it!  tip includes "When you place your next hardware order with Softchoice, make sure you ask for the consolidated shipment option" ! But, what the heck, they deserve a few extra orders for  sheer creativity!

The report is delightlfully full of the people who make CSR at Softchoice, even including a 4 year old bulldog who accompanies "Mom and Dad" to the office and a host of photos and vids of the Softchoice people.

The Report itself is a GRI C level, and reasonably comprehensive, and for a mid-sized business with under 1,000 employees,  its a major achievement. Their first report was pretty good, too!
Thumbs up to Softchoice! You can see they had a lot of fun writing this report! I bet they like Chunky Monkey as well.

elaine cohen is the CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting firm. Visit our website at


Edwin Jansen said...

I work at Softchoice and it absolutely made my day to see your great coverage of our CSR. We really hope that this guide will help and inspire other organizations to learn from our progress (and our mistakes), and have some fun doing it. There are only a handful of mid-size organizations in the world who do a GRI-ready CSR, and there should be thousands - thanks for spreading the good word!

Unknown said...

Edwin, what a wonderful way to start my day with coffee. The key ingredient in any organization striving for success, is to learn from its mistakes.

More key is creating a company that people like to come to work for every day.

I enjoyed Elaine's post and I would love to know more about your company culture and the leadership values that shape your network - company and all its stakeholders.

So if someone can say more about this, I will come back and read.

Unknown said...

LOVING IT! Great article and hats off to Softchoice.

There is sooo much room for innovation and good ideas when it comes to CSR and reporting on corporate achievements. Thanks for being a leader in the field, Softchoice. I'll be pointing people in your direction as a great example of what's possible.

Maybe the best part is that this kind of reporting is all so 'do-able' and compelling.

Thanks for the great analysis and write up Elaine. Your blog is the best destination on the web for all things CSR Reporting (and ice cream, although I find you're a bit biased to one particular falvour).


elaine said...

Edwin, Lavinia and Chris, thanks for reading and for commenting!
Edwin - glad to spread the word about good work!
Lavinia - on the ball as always!
Chris - thanks for the compliment. Guess I will keep posting, then. :)
Have a great week, all!

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