The CSRwire hosted a Twitter chat on Feb. 12, 2014 to talk with corporate social responsibility opinion leaders. For my blog post I am going to list the questions I liked the best and then talk about the responses.
The first questions posed was
The top responses included; transparency, nontraditional partnerships and recognizing consumers as a primary stakeholder.
I agree with this list. Transparency is something that businesses are going to strive for on a day-to-day basis. The yearly CSR reports containing miles of text have a very short half-life if compared to monthly or quarterly reports of CSR work. Transparency involves timeliness.
Then there is the rise of self-aware consumers. Arguably, they have always been present, but what is changing is how businesses treat them. The power of social media allows boycotts to start before a public relations specialist has time to punch out a news release to calm the fire. Being present and available for communication is important for survival, because substitute products are always available in the market and consumers have no problem paying a little extra for the production of products they want.
Numbers and short feature stories aren’t enough – they were never enough. So what if your company reduced water waste by 30 percent? In the process you outsourced and then optimized resulting in the layoff of 1,000 employees. Is that really CSR?
Each action a corporation makes in the name of CSR is going to have negative impact somewhere else. Consumers are seeing this and it makes them disappointed. This is why completeness in the data is crucial. It is important to find all consequences a choice has and minimize damage before it even happens.
(Skipping a few questions)
Top answers are story telling and competitive firms.
GRI can be difficult. For example lets say there is a company that makes shirts. They get cotton from the United States, thread from Thailand and machines from China, but the assembly takes place in Mexico. Is it the shirt companies responsibility to make sure that employees are being paid well in Thailand? How can they? The shirt company is only buying thread, they aren’t responsible for wages. Global Reporting allows some transparency in the inputs of production. So while the shirt company may be practicing great CSR, the components of their product may have bad CSR. Accurately measuring a product would involve tracking it back through the manufacturing process. I hope to see more GRI as 2014 progresses.