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Edelman Launches Global Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Communications Report

Submitted by: Edelman

Categories: Sustainability

Posted: Feb 11, 2008 – 10:00 AM EST


Research findings developed with Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Net Impact and World Business Council for Sustainable Development assess trends and best practices in corporate responsibility communications

Feb. 11 /CSRwire/ - NEW YORK, NY - February 11, 2008 - Transparency in communications is a key indicator of a socially responsible company – more important than philanthropy or NGO partnerships – according to a landmark corporate responsibility and sustainability communications report launched today by Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm.

The report, "Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Communications: Who's Listening? Who's Leading? What Matters Most?" was developed in collaboration with the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Net Impact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and can be found online at www.edelman.com/expertise/practices/csr/.

"We have seen an explosion of interest, debate, and analysis concerning corporate responsibility and sustainability," said Chris Deri, executive vice president and global practice leader of Edelman's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & Sustainability Practice. "We wanted this report to provide both practical and actionable findings specifically tailored for communicators."

The report assesses trends and best practices in corporate responsibility-focused communications, as well as the effectiveness of newer communications efforts. Key findings address the role of transparency as an indicator of responsible business practices, the expectation for companies to lead on key global health and social issues, and the importance of investors and employees (current and prospective) as key audiences:

  • Transparency is a key indicator of a socially responsible company. Being transparent about business operations, future goals, and treatment of workforce are vital indicators for stakeholders assessing corporate responsibility and sustainability. In fact, 45% of survey respondents agreed that communicating both positive and negative performance ranked among the three most important activities for a socially responsible company to engage in.

    "More companies are realizing that authenticity is the key to effective corporate responsibility communications," said Peggy Connolly, communications director at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. "This research reveals the importance of companies being real, relevant, and responsive to key stakeholders—internally with employees and externally with NGOs and others."

  • Stakeholders expect companies to lead – not just manage risk – on key issues. No longer does it suffice for companies to simply manage risks on certain global issues such as climate change, human rights, and poverty alleviation.

  • Employees and socially responsible investors have emerged as key communications audiences due to their impact on a company's bottom line. Investors are increasingly looking at corporate responsibility as a proxy for good management and view solid practices as a mark of a healthy approach to risk and opportunities. In fact, 39% of survey respondents said they were more inclined to purchase products from companies they considered socially responsible.

    Study participants also agreed that directing corporate responsibility-focused communications at employees is empowering for them and a company's programs. "Employees are a company's most valuable resource when it comes to putting corporate responsibility initiatives to work," said Liz Maw, Executive Director, Net Impact. "This research highlights just how important it is to communicate a company's responsible business practices to employees."

  • Companies often neglect an important corporate responsibility communications audience: prospective employees. Corporate communicators could do much more to leverage responsible business practices as a recruiting tool, especially since today's job seekers tend to research a company's performance in this area. In fact, 62% of survey respondents report that their recruitment materials failed to emphasize this information.

    "Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Communications: Who's Listening? Who's Leading? What Matters Most?" is informed by an international survey of 3,100 global opinion leaders, interviews with NGOs and multilaterals, regulators, media and executives from global Fortune 500 companies, and a survey of Net Impact's international membership.

    About Edelman's Global CSR & Sustainability Practice
    Edelman’s Global CSR & Sustainability practice provides counsel and programming to multi-national companies in a variety of sectors around issues management, communications campaigns, CR/sustainability reporting, management training, strategic philanthropy, public-private partnerships, and public affairs. Edelman also provides counsel and programming for multilateral organizations and global NGOs. For more information, visit www.edelman.com/expertise/practices/csr/.

    About Edelman
    Edelman is the world's largest independent public relations firm, with 3,000 employees in 51 offices worldwide. Edelman was named in Advertising Age's "2007 Agency A-List," the first and only PR firm to receive this recognition. Richard Edelman, the firm's President & CEO, was also named Agency Executive of the Year for 2007 by Advertising Age. In 2006, PRWeek awarded Edelman Large Agency of the Year and gave the firm its "Editor's Choice" distinction. For more information, visit www.edelman.com.

    About Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
    For 20 years The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has provided research, executive education, and convenings on corporate citizenship topics. The center works with global corporations to help them define, plan and operationalize their corporate citizenship. The center functions as an educational institution, a think tank and an informational research center—all in one place. The center’s goal is to help business leverage its social, economic, and human assets to ensure both its success and a more just and sustainable world. For more information, visit www.bcccc.net.

    About Net Impact
    Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to make a positive impact on society by growing and strengthening a community of new leaders who use business to improve the world. New Impact offers a portfolio of programs to educate, equip, and inspire more than 10,000 members to make a tangible difference in their universities, organizations, and communities. Net Impact members are current and emerging leaders in CSR, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development, and environmental sustainability who are actively improving the world. For more information, visit www.netimpact.org.

    About World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD)
    The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development. The Council provides a platform for companies to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experiences and best practices, and to advocate business positions on these issues in a variety of forums, working with governments, non-governmental, and inter-governmental organizations. Members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. The Council also benefits from a global network of about 55 national and regional business councils and regional partners. For more information, visit www.wbcsd.org.

  • For more information, please contact:

    Laura Deal Edelman
    Phone: 212-704-4424


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