Use Your CSR Report to Grow Your Business
How’s your sustainability report? Have you completed your Modern Slavery policy reporting? Are you reporting the gender pay gap? Maybe you’re still consumed with Health and Safety reports?
Sustainability reports have drastically risen over the past few years. In 2011, only 20% of companies were publishing reports. Fast-forward to 2017 and up to 85% were reporting their sustainability, rightly increasing pressure on businesses to be more transparent.
Daunting isn’t it. There are so many things that businesses have to report on. It all serves a purpose but takes time. For many of our customers, the failure to evidence all the things we have to comply with can be a showstopper.
Let me tell you a story…
I used to work for a global aerospace manufacturer. Our US customers drove our reporting, so the list of compliance checks was vast, including conflict minerals, modern slavery, supplier diversity, Dodds-Frank Act all for the purpose of reporting on conflict minerals, gender ratio, safety, policies and processes.
It becomes a consuming task and, if we’re honest, we see it as a bit of a chore. However, I think we’re missing an opportunity.
We can learn from experience
Ask the average business leader if they would like their business to be identifiable as an environmentally aware, gender-fair, high-quality operation that supports its local community and which plays its part in driving these values globally and you’ll get a “yes.”
Ask the same business leader for a story about where it’s gone wrong for a business, and you’ll hear plenty too. We all know of significant technology brands that have had their low-cost country suppliers identified as breaching child labour or fair working hours. Look at the meat scandals in the UK supply market and the costs associated with cleaning those supply chains. Tesco, which is infamous for its link to the scandal, had almost £300 million wiped off its market value after the story broke. The value and fragility of brand integrity cannot be overemphasised.
Let your CSR do the talking
Did you know that 40% of consumers seek purposeful brands and trust in brands to act in the best interest of society?
So – how about we actively take all of the compliance reports we have to do and use them to show this as supporting the CSR value in our brand?
Think of it this way: If you invest in checking that your suppliers are aligned to the values of your business then the risk of these kinds of failures is reduced. If those suppliers then check their suppliers, the risk drops further. In your next company report or marketing campaign, you would be able to tell customers that you are actively working with your suppliers to make things better. Click here to read more about mitigating risk in your business.
The correlating benefit is that it reduces your workload – no need for detailed work and queries every reporting period; you are living it and can point to what you are doing.
Imagine this multiplied across all of the CSR hotspots: Modern Slavery, Child labour, environmental protection, sustainable operations, conflict minerals, training and development, supplier diversity, safety, support to charitable causes. Imagine the reduction in work and the boost to your brand.
Your customers will love it. So will your employees. So will your future employees.
However, here’s the catch. Getting going requires a bit of focus. You need to know what you have to report and what you want to report. It would be helpful for you to decide who is involved in your business and your suppliers. You need to know how to get the data together and how to present it. Then you need to make it stick!
Create inspirational stories
Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of presenting reports to the broader world in an exciting and inspiring way. Think of companies known for excellent CSR. The Body Shop is a great example. It started on the basis of using business as a force for good. The way they’ve continually told that story, in its public focus on fair trade, animal welfare, sustainability and worker’s rights has meant that the brand is thoroughly associated with best practice and good ethics. If your company can showcase its own CSR victories in a way that your brand and CSR become fully integrated, your business will reap the benefits.