CSR/Sustainability 2011 Expectations

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Chad Tragakis explores how corporations should approach CSR and sustainability in 2011.

Chad Tragakis explores how corporations should approach CSR and sustainability in 2011.

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  • 2. CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY/SUSTAINABILITY | 201 EXPECTATIONS 1Chad TragakisUS Director, Corporate Social Responsibilitychad.tragakis@hillandknowlton.com201 NOW TRENDING 1: CORPORATE IMPLICATIONSIn spite of changes in Congress, questions over the validity of Leading companies are recognizing and responding to consumerresearch and a general “green fatigue” on the part of many demand for action and information regarding climate change, andAmericans, climate change will still be accepted as the primary embracing this as an opportunity for reputation building andenvironmental issue and challenge of our time. Research strongly thought leadership. To stand out, companies will need to rethinksuggests that citizens expect businesses to play a role in mitigating where and how they share and celebrate their climate change-it, and act in concert with government to address it. Additionally, related programs, policies and partnerships with customers andbusiness risk related to climate change will remain increasingly stakeholders. As is often the case, one innovative and memorableimportant to mainstream investors, and many will continue to effort will be worth more than dozens of smaller ones.scrutinize corporate sustainability reports and other collateral asa window into the company and its exposure. In response to changing influences on consumer brand percep- tions, sector leaders will need to integrate their company’s CSRExternal influencers and organizations will continue to impact story into mainstream consumer communications channels—fromconsumer brand perceptions more than corporate PR or corpo- marketing and television advertising to in-store displays andrate social responsibility (CSR) reports. Research suggests that product packaging to digital communications.consumers want more information about a company’s commit-ment to corporate responsibility and sustainability, but need that It will be essential for companies to carefully navigate “green”information in simpler ways and where it connects to them. opportunities and partnerships, as vocal consumers, activist NGOs and government regulators such as the Federal TradeInterest in the environment will remain strong on the part of both Commission continue to call firms out for greenwashing,businesses and consumers. We will also continue to see an fraudulent claims and abuse of marketing communications.increase in firms applying for LEED certification for their facilitiesand entering into strategic partnerships with environmental Companies will need to get in front of the water issue first byconservation organizations. conducting assessments of their true water “footprint,” taking steps to minimize use throughout their supply chainsWater use, availability and scarcity will continue to be of growing and product life cycles, and then highlighting success stories andconcern in nearly every part of the world, posing a major opera- sharing best practices with customers, partners, regulatorstional and reputational issue for companies. This is especially true and other stakeholdersfor firms in water-intensive industries, but since every companyuses water, it will be an issue for the entire business sector. Chad Tragakis, based in Washington, DC, leads H&K’s North American corporate responsibility team.