Monday, July 18, 2011

Dr Sustainability is back!

Doctor Sustainability is a busy woman. She spends her time trotting the globe (carbon neutrally of course) offering advice to the CEO's of global corporations, senior government officials and movers and shakers in major organizations such as the United Nations, United Biscuits and United Manchester .. err.. Manchester United. You can imagine how delighted I was when Dr. Sustainability agreed to answer, once again, readers' questions on the CSR Reporting blog. You will all recall Dr Sustainability's sound advice last year.


Dear Doctor Sustainability: I have been hearing more and more about Creating Shared Value. What does this mean ? 
Dear Ponderer: Creating Shared Value is another way of saying that sustainability must make money. This is not to be confused with Creating Shareholder Value. The latter is about making rich people richer. The former is about making everybody rich. Of course, there are no guarantees. Except for the latter.

Dear Doctor Sustainability: I was in the middle of reading an online sustainability report and suddenly I felt a migraine coming on. Actually, I have noticed that this often happens when I read sustainability reports. Can you recommend a treatment for this ?
Dear Sufferer: I have treated many people with a similar complaint. Basically, the only thing that can be done is to take a three week daily dose of an antibiotic, ant-depressant, anti-histamine and anti-suicidal drug which can be supplied at your local pharmacy. But don't worry, it comes in Chunky Monkey flavor.

Dear Doctor Sustainability: I have decided to reduce my energy consumption to zero. What would you recommend ?
Dear Energized: Die.

Dear Doctor Sustainability: Surely women can't be good Chief Sustainability Officers ? Isn't sustainability a man's thing ?
Dear Chauvinist: Of course women can be great CSO's. Female leadership skills such as listening, caring, sharing, smiling, collaboration, inclusiveness, appreciation and a sharp analytical as well as creative mind will always give the female CSO  an edge over her male counterpart. Unfortunately this cannot be proven because, with the exception of a very few, all CSO's are male. But don't despair, if you are an aspiring female CSO, your time will come. But you might have to wait for a giant black hole to rip a star apart. 

Dear Doctor Sustainability: I want to write an Integrated Report. But I am not sure quite how to integrate what and where. Should I start off with an Annual Report and include a sustainability paragraph on every alternate page, or should I start off with a Sustainability Report and add reams of financials at the end ?
Dear Integrated: This is quite a dilemma which most Integrated Reporters have not yet resolved effectively. The best way is to rewire your processes to create an integrated approach to business. You can then produce a fully integrated report which includes all the relevant information jumbled up together so that all stakeholders will not be able to find exactly what they are looking for. When you realize this doesn't work, you can split it into two reports to keep everyone happy.
Dear Doctor Sustainability: I really don't know what to call my next report. CSR report ? Sustainability Report ? Corporate Citizenship Report ? Positive Impact Report ? Shared Value Report ? Corporate Responsibility Report ? Accountability Report ? Sustainability Review ? Triple Bottom Line Report ? What would you recommend ?
Dear Reporter: How you call your report is a reflection of how you approach sustainability strategy. Sounds to me that you haven't quite got it together. In that case, my recommendation would be to call it a CSR Sustainability Corporate Citizenship Positive Impact Shared Value Corporate Responsibility Accountability Triple Bottom Line Review Report. Nothing like covering all bases.

Dear Doctor Sustainability: No-one reads my Sustainability Report. How can I get people to read it ?
Dear Unread: Kidnap them, bribe them, coerce them, whip them, point a gun at them, torture them. If all that doesn't work, add some pictures of children holding up a globe or saplings blowing in the wind. If you still have no luck, you might try calling it News of the World. 

Dear Doctor Sustainability: My company has decided to use a celebrity to promote our sustainability reporting efforts. Right now the choice is between Susan Sarandon, Bette Midler, Woody Allen and Ben Stiller. Who do you think would be most appropriate ?
Dear Stargazer: I do believe celeb endorsements of sustainability reports is the Next Big Thing in sustainability communications so well done for getting ahead on this. As for which celeb to select, use one who can talk coherently about global sustainability issues such as climate change, water scarcity, poverty, the digital divide, a low carbon economy and human rights abuses in supply chains. (Hint:  It's ok if you decide to drop this idea). 

Dear Doctor Sustainability: I want to write our Sustainability Report for last year, but we had a massive environmental disaster in our business which caused several deaths, destroyed much wildlife and many natural habitats, created a major hole in our market capitalization and seriously damaged our reputation. Do you think I should mention any of that ?
Dear Reporter: Of course. But express it all in a way which makes it sound really really really positive.    

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices   Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

1 comment:

Shailesh Telang said...

I am a regular reader of your blog. I love all of your posts especially this one. Thanks!

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