Communicating the Impact of Corporate Social Investments
How do corporations authentically and effectively communicate the impact and successes of their social programs to their internal and external stakeholders?
Most multinational corporations are committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and have embedded its principles into their daily operations. This commitment typically incorporates a broad range of actions from corporate social investments designed to support local and global communities through contributions and volunteerism, to shared value initiatives, to good governance, to increased supply chain accountability. Many of these efforts aim to achieve significant social impact for local and global communities.
Effective corporate communication of social programs is more important than ever as stakeholders such as customers, regulators, shareholders and employees have increasingly high expectations for the behaviors of corporations; and want access to information about multinational corporations’ social policies and impacts. Yet, these important intentions and accomplishments are often under recognized. Both communications and corporate citizenship professionals are challenged with how best to publicize positive aspects and serious social engagements to a skeptical audience, while being authentic as opposed to PR driven.
The Conference Board has been leading a series of Research Working Groups (RWG) with leading Fortune 500 companies to study the impact of their corporate social investments. Building on the findings of the previous two groups, Corporate Philanthropy with a Global Footprint and Measuring the Impact of Corporate Social Investments, The Conference Board is launching a new working group that will focus on Communicating Social Impact. This project will bring together CSR, philanthropy professionals with their corporate communications counterparts to examine effective, multi-stakeholder outreach campaigns.
The group will address the following questions:
• How do you manage a tasteful balance of communicating successes of social investment programs without overselling them?
• How do you address the difference between reporting and telling a story (GRI guideline reporting versus a web-based, interactive CSR report, versus social media campaigns)?
• How do you manage multilateral partnerships through effective communication campaigns directed at customers, investors, and employees? What risks need to be addressed?
• How do you bring and align all internal stakeholder together responsible for CSR communications (such as internal branding and corporate communications and marketing groups, employee communications/HR, Sustainability committees, Foundations, etc). How can they all talk about their specific initiatives in a way that rolls up to a total CSR story?
• How do you engage different audiences that are interested in and require different types of information about a company’s CSR initiatives (i.e. a potential supplier or B2B customer versus a consumer, versus shareholders, versus local government officials versus prospective and current employees)?