Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What they said at the CSR conference

Here I am back from the Ethical Corporation Reporting and Communications Summit held in London on 25th and 26th November. Promising to provide answers to whether one-way CR Reporting is dead, what integrated reporting means in real life, whether stakeholder engagement adds value, what good CR practice looks like online and more, this conference presented an array of CSR practitioners from the best of companies such as Vodafone, M&S; JS Sainsbury, Sony and more. Below is the conference in quotes which I have tried to reflect fairly and not take out of context (much). These are things that I wrote down. There were many more insights to be gained from listening to the entire presentations and debates, but this should give you a bird's eye view. Background on the speakers and companies can be found at the conference link in the first line of this blop.

Andy Wales of SABMiller
"Sustainable development is part of everything we do"
"For every job we create in Uganda, 100 additional jobs are created"
"I remain unconvinced that analysts are looking at the long term issues "
"Less than 10% of people [visiting our site] download the [CR] report"
"People have a completely bizarre view of how our bisiness works"

Chris Burgess of Vodafone
"It's very difficult not to report these days"
"The main value of sustainable reporting is more of an internal one"
"We're not really clear who reads our reports"

Rowland Hill of M&S
"The best reports are considered to have a compelling story to them"
"A report should be the tip of an overall communications iceberg"
"A report has done 90% of its job by the time you've got it signed off"
"Our employees have never been as engaged as they are now.. but when we gave the [sustainability] report to our employees, it hit the recycling bin faster than we could say something short."
"Key external opinion formers are the target of our reporting"
"An Ipsos Mori survey in September 2010 showed that when asked "Which sustainability reports have you read?", 40 respondents from the NGO and CR expert community responded M&S (68%), Tesco (65%), Coop (65%) Sainsbury (55%), Next (8%) Debenhams (8%) " (actually this was more of a slide than a quote but it's close enough:)
"Integrated reporting is an interesting thing"

Marcelo Esquivel of Anglo American, Chile
"The first challenge [of writing reports] is to make sure they are read"
"I definitely believe integrated reporting is the immediate fture"
"We are proud of the net positive impact we generate in communities"

Simon Braaksma of Phillips
"Sustainability is part of our company strategy"
"Our report is not written by one person, it's a military operation"
"[Our report] helps employees understand the business strategy"

Judith Moore of the World Bank
"Stakeholder engagement and feedback [on our report] is disappointing"
"[Reporting] has actually made our job a lot easier  - it creates a lot less dissonance in our work and makes it easier to raise money in capital markets"

Louise Tyson of BP
"You get caught up in a discussion about share price and environmental issues - but is important to remember that 11 people died"
"Most crises are much shorter .. this one lasted several months"
"Targets we set for the next BP report are transparency (using accessible language), balance (not being defensive), commitent to the Gulf of Mexico and a roadmap for BP and the way forward"
"The big challenge is who's going to read our report "

Chris Harrop of Marshalls
"The UNGC is a very good roadmap to organise our own sustainability actions"
"We use the UNGC framework to fame our discussions with stakeholders"
"Our CR report is easy to write"

Toby Webb of Ethical Corporation
"cutting edge" "authentic" "genuine"  (talking about the Patagonia CSR website)
"Timberland talks about issues they don't know how to solve"

Marjolein Baghuis of the GRI
"Stakeholders need to see results from their inputs"

Emily Nicholl of Sony
"First forget social media .. this is about being social..."
"We have to shift from smiley baby reports to development and data-heavy and rigorous reports"

Jeffrey Oathan of Centrica
"Reporting can be prety boring"

Revital Bitan of Intel
"Our localised CSR reports create a link between Intel and national issues"
"A CSR report is like a reference guide"
"Think integration not subsitution"
"Be prepared to engage"
"Employees are trained in blogging but blogs are not censored"

EDF Energy (marketing slogan) (I love this)

If we save today, we can save tomorrow. 

Finally, the only thing I was hoping to hear but unfortunately was not articulated even once during this informative and  thought-provoking two day conference was:

"And now it's time for an ice cream break - free Chunky Monkey for everyone!" 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my business website www.b-yond.biz/en  (BeyondBusiness, CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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