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Finding the Value in Social Reporting

Report published by Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Institute for Responsible Investment presents best practice in reporting

Submitted by: Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Research, Reports & Publications

Posted: Sep 29, 2009 – 12:39 PM EST


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass., Sep. 29 /CSRwire/ - As the number of global companies producing social reports increases each year and a shareholder effort to require publicly-traded companies to report annually on social, environmental and governance issues grows, a report from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship's Institute for Responsible Investment takes an in-depth, inside look at how seven multinational companies formally reported the social and environmental value they have in society.

This comprehensive report "The Value of Social Reporting" explores how the companies manage the reporting process from inception to publication. The research reveals best practices and valuable lessons while tracing the evolution and future directions of reporting within each company. The value of the report to the internal management of corporate citizenship was also explored.

The companies that participated in the research project are Baxter International Inc., Gap Inc., Nestlé, Novo Nordisk, Seventh Generation, State Street Corporation, and Telefónica, S.A. Several managers and senior executives were interviewed within each company to allow researchers a comprehensive perspective on how the activity plays itself out across companies.

"The research reveals it is a combination of the communication and performance management aspects of a social report that make it a unique tool for promoting good corporate citizenship," said David Wood, director of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Institute for Responsible Investment. "We found that real value is achieved when the social report is used strategically as part of managing corporate citizenship, rather than as a separate activity focused on communicating with stakeholders."

The researchers also explored the value of the report to advance external and internal communications objectives. Other common challenges addressed by the global companies include: creating internal systems to produce the report, translation issues, and effective and efficient distribution strategies. Continuous learning is also a common theme among the companies and the report offers a look at best practices and lessons learned.

In addition to the comprehensive report, the Boston College researchers also produced separate case studies that focus exclusively on each of the seven companies in the study. Case studies available include: "Baxter Stays True to Its Pioneer Mission," "Gap Inc. Fashions a Revealing Look," “Nestlé Shares Its Story of Creating Shared Value," Novo Nordisk Takes Strides To Integrate Triple Bottom Line," Seventh Generation Seeks to Sustain Essence Amid Change," "State Street Accounts for Stakeholders' Needs," and “Telefónica Makes Connections Local and Long Distance."

About the Boston College Institute for Responsible Investment
The Institute for Responsible Investment, a project of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, provides a platform for dialogue on fundamental issues and theories underlying responsible investing. The IRI's work is meant to identify and promote market structures and investment activity that can best create long-term wealth creation for investors and society alike.

For more information, please contact:

Peggy Connolly Director of Communications
Phone: 617-522-0722
Phone 2: 617-645-5555
David Wood Director, Institute for Responsible Investment
Phone: 617-552-1140


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