Friday, August 13, 2010

The Personality of CSR Reports

Personality: per·son·al·i·ty
Function: noun
(one of four definitions) : the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual or a nation or group; especially : the totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional characteristics

Now, personality is a complex thing. So are CSR reports. But there is no getting away from it, CSR reports have a personality all of their own. They have a look, style, tone, and a set of specific traits that make up their personality. In psychology (not that I know too much about that, but the internet is a wonderful thing)  there are apparently FIVE BIG PERSONALITY TRAITS or dimensions of personality which characterize human behaviour.  Now, with a small stretch of the imagination, these characteristics can also apply to CSR reports. See the traits and the correspondingly traitful reports in the list below.

Openness : (inventive / curious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience.
Take a look at this first report from Jain Irrigation Systems entitled Prosperity for Posterity (what a wonderful report title!) - it's a delightful first report demonstrating openness of thinking, great creativity, wonderful artwork and quality reporting. This report from WPP also comes in nicely with an openness personality trait - including great testimonials from a wide range of people,  super artwork, and a great pro-bono showcase.

Conscientiousness : (efficient / organized). A tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
I think this report from Kesko is one of the most conscientious efforts around. It's high quality, very comprehensive and transparent, and demonstrates absolute detail in planning, acting and reporting on CSR.  

Extraversion : (outgoing / energetic). Energy, positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others.
Top candidate for this personality trait is of course the SAP 2009  online report. It certainly seeks stimilation in the form of interactive feedback requests on every page.

Agreeableness: (friendly / compassionate). A tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.
I would put the nice, creative report from Softchoice in this trait category. The report offers good advice on things to do and things to avoid from this IT solutions provider.  

Neuroticism : (sensitive / nervous ). A tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability.
Hmm, I had a little trouble finding a CSR report with a neurotic personality trait. Perhaps the closest I could get is the British American Tobacco Report for 2009, where the home page includes questions such as : "Who would want to work for a tobacco company anyway ? "

But that's not all. With every personality there is a corresponding disorder.  More about that another time :) However, I will note that I have a compulsive-obsessive-addictive personality disorder when it comes to CSR reports and Chunky Monkey. What about you? Try the Personality Disorder Test. You don't need to share the results on Twitter. :)

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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