Friday, May 30, 2014

Digitizing materiality

This week was a fun week! Amidst all the intensely intensive intensity of G4 reporting for several months as clients race to meet reporting deadlines and us with them, I was able to take a couple of serene days to spend time with fabulous people, enjoy fabulous food in a fabulous setting, and hear some fabulously new stuff.
Yes, I was at the Lundquist 6th annual CSR Awards conference and event in Milan, a gathering of specialist communications and CSR experts from all over Europe. Lundquist is a strategic communications consulting firm based in Italy, and the company boasts a team of leading thinkers in the digital corporate communications space. The recently published Lundquist survey results with trends and practices around CSR and the online universe can be downloaded here:
The research shows an acceleration of the uptake of social and digital technologies compared with previous editions of the research. Now, virtually all sustainability professionals (94%) are on social media with three quarters of these doing so in relation to CSR and sustainability. Video and infographic content are gaining popularity and CSR Managers have become the new social media stars, with everyone wanting to hear from them online. It's always fun to know what frustrates people and the Lundquist research confirmed what we already know - that too much good news is not good news.
The full results and the details of the CSR award winners can be downloaded here. Deutsche Post DHL took first prize, with Nestle and Unilever close behind.
In the Lundquist home market, Italy, Telecom Italia, Hera Group and Snam took the trophies.

Lundquist's research and analysis is really quite fascinating and contains much that should be of interest to CSR corporate communicators. Well worth studying!

During the two day conference, I was pleased to facilitate a workshop with presenters and panelists from Hera Group, Birra Peroni (SAB Miller) and Adidas. I opened up (my presentation embedded below) with an overview of opportunities and risks in the digitization of materiality and stakeholder engagement. While there is incredible potential to reach to stakeholders using online tools, there are also dangers arising from inappropriate use. Not everything that is online provides real insight that is relevant enough to deliver a robust materiality conclusion. The fact that Survey Monkey is free and there is a (G4) stakeholder engagement materiality box to tick does not mean that stakeholder engagement happens. As an element in a set of digital and non-digital tools, there is a place for online surveys. But let's not dumb down stakeholder engagement to the point of mindlessness by going through the motions without due planning and focus.

One of the questions that generated the most debate in our workshop was how to find the right balance between, on the one hand, targeted engagement of experts that can make a contribution based on knowledge, experience and critical analysis and, on the other hand, reach to the general mass consumer population that is, after all, the group that decides whether to buy a company's product or not. We shared lots of views and recognized that each company needs to assess what tools will deliver the most useful materiality input and most reflect stakeholder views in a representative way. Not all stakeholders are equal but no single algorithm can determine which are the most equal.

All in all, a stimulating couple of days, professionally and skillfully organized by the Lundquist team.

My photo gallery from the CSR Awards conference and event
a fabulous colorful place to stay - Hotel Mediolanum

Kicking things off with digital disruption

Joakim Lundquist who kept the two days moving at a pace

Are sustainability reports really dinosaurs? 

The Gala Dinner - in anticipation

The Gala Dinner - home straits

Gotta keep talking

James Osborne, the CSR social media stats and trends wizard
hate turgid

David Connor @davidcoethica raring to present on the ways of using social media
Christine Hermann of Orange talks about what's important

My daughter's new ear piercing  - oops, how did that get in here? 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, award-winning Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me at   or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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