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Corporate Responsibility: Inside A CSR Annual Report
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Corporate Responsibility: Inside A CSR Annual Report - Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: Inside A CSR Annual Report

Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: Inside A CSR Annual Report

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a facet of a company’s performance is becoming big enough a deal that many companies release annual reports on their progress in this realm. Like just about any annual report, they tend to be slick, glossy, image-heavy productions that rival good high school yearbooks in design and presentation. Beyond their appearance, though, is some revealing narrative that sheds light on what a company values via how it chooses to present itself. Any organization looking to test the CSR waters would be well served to take a good look at what’s out there as a means to shape its own priorities; but these annual reports are also enlightening on their own terms, as snapshots of companies’ interests in addressing shareholder benefits. We examined several recent CSR Annual Reports and note commonalities and highlights here.

Restatement of Company Values
Every report took a moment early in the publication to restate its company values. Many times, the values provided the structure for the report, as a point-by-point framework for reporting on its progress. How did the organization do in holding to its values, and what is the evidence? Photos, infographics, quotes, interviews, and testimonies work together to paint the image.

Evaluation of Progress Toward Goals
Several reports revisited goals set in the previous year’s report, candidly assessing where progress was or wasn’t made, with frank comments on where and how it can do better in the coming year. Some discussed reduction of emissions, some analyzed growth in increasing diversity, and some broke goals down into stakeholder-specific assessment. One topic obviously absent in these goals: profit.

Big Ideas
Every company highlighted a few of its big ideas in reaching out to stakeholders. This is where the reports took on their own personalities. One firm talked about its “crashpad,” a place for traveling employees to rest, recharge, and engage as an alternative to a hotel. Another looked at its new program in awarding flight vouchers to charitable organizations for each twenty-five hours an employee logged in volunteer time.

Report on Giving
In addition to large initiatives, every company shared data on awarding grants, scholarships, and monetary contributions, in some cases also sharing the number of volunteer hours performed by employees throughout the year. Some companies compared their numbers with previous years’ data and discussed goals for increasing the numbers in the coming year.

It’s easy to get a look at a company’s CSR Annual Report: a quick search for this term provides links to complete web-viewable documents or PDF downloads, and some of the firms publishing these materials aren’t among the usual CSR suspects. In an era where it seems consumers are constantly at war with providers, it can be a refreshing way to restore one’s faith in business and humanity just to explore a few of the annual reports. There’s a lot of good being done, and it’s galvanizing to see just how much.

 

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Corporate Responsibility: Inside A CSR Annual Report - Executive Leadership Articles

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