Disclosing Environmental Practices

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What is an effective environmental reporting? What is the difference between genuine disclosure versus 'greenwashng? In this study, we report how doing it the right way could help firms to strengthen …

What is an effective environmental reporting? What is the difference between genuine disclosure versus 'greenwashng? In this study, we report how doing it the right way could help firms to strengthen corporate identity within the organisation. Read more or visit us at http://www.verityconsult.com

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  • 1. Creativity | Passion | Growth Disclosing environmental practices in low-impact industries By Sandy Chong & Irene Pollach
  • 2. Creativity | Passion | Growth Environmental efforts made by low impact industries are often dismissed as trite responses to modern competitive pressures. Environmental reports, also referred to efforts are: those who have a high as sustainability reports or corporate impact on the environment, and - social responsibility (CSR) reports, interestingly - low impact industries detail a company's environmental (e.g. service industries like banking). objectives, activities and Unfortunately though, environmental achievements. Almost thirty years ago, efforts made by low impact industries there was no demand for such are often dismissed as trite responses disclosures, because the content of to modern competitive pressures; their environmental disclosures is often sustainability reports are nothing but irrelevant to external decision-makers. mere "greenwashing". Things have changed, however. Today, The usefulness of such reports are companies publish environmental therefore being brought into question. information for a host of reasons: to And, is there no genuine way for these reduce information asymmetries low impact companies address between stakeholders and themselves, environmental concerns without being to respond to public pressures, and to dismissed as "greenwashing"? manage their reputations. Pressures from institutional investors also Certainly not. The key is to implement contribute to this trend; increasingly, substantive measures to mitigate social and environmental factors are climate change, and publicize them being considered while making plainly. In other words - cut the investment decisions. "environmental terminology". Our research has shown that, more often In this article, we review the manner in than not, excessive use of which companies disclose their environmental jargon reflects a environmental practices to the public. company's vain public relations Doing it the right way can also help to attempt, and readers are more strengthen corporate identity within discerning than companies think they the organization. are. Amongst the industries in which companies publish their sustainability Disclosing environmental practices 2
  • 3. Creativity | Passion | Growth Sustainability Measures Fig. 1 shows some of the measures achieved by purchasing green energy, that European and American controlling lights and temperature in companies in low impact industries office buildings, and reducing energy have taken (and reported) to address consumption by IT. Lastly, controlling issues in waste management, energy the frequency of business travels efficiency and climate change. mitigates climate change. Measures taken to manage waste Interestingly, some of these measures include recycling and actual waste also help to cut operational costs (e.g. reduction, e.g. by reducing paper less business travels by air). consumption. Energy efficiency is I. Waste Management  Separation of paper waste with non-paper  Recycling of: paper, batteries, light bulbs, office furniture, toner cartridges, and IT waste  Use of non-disposable mugs and kitchen utensils II. Energy Efficiency  Use of green energy sources, roof solar panels, and fuel-efficient/hybrid vehicles  Use of multifunctional copiers  Use of LCD panel screens (instead of monitors)  Use of lighting motion sensors and energy- efficient light bulbs  Shutting down of computer terminals and lighting automatically III. Climate Change  Cutting down business travel by using video/phone/web conferencing and encouraging travel by train instead of air  Working from home  Cycling facilities Fig. 1: Measures taken by  Subsidizing public transport expenses, European and American low- shuttle bus services and car-pooling impact companies schemes for employees Disclosing environmental practices 3
  • 4. Creativity | Passion | Growth Environmental reports as means of corporate communication Certain company documents are In their reports, companies can also especially useful in reinforcing make use of external auditing services corporate identity; they contain and awards to endorse and reinforce corporate messages which are read their sustainability efforts. and processed in the minds of the employees. This article is an abridged version of a research paper entitled - Corporate And when these are sent out to Sustainability Discourse as Auto- external stakeholders, the validity of Communication: A Study of Disclosure these messages increases greatly. Practices in Low-Impact Industries. Hence annual reports, value statements or CSR reports are About the Authors potentially the most effective albeit Dr. Sandy Chong lesser-known vehicles to generate Principal consultant employee commitment and pride. Verity Consulting Pty Ltd But in order for environmental dr.sandychong@verityconsult.com reports to serve the above purposes, linkedin.com/in/sandychong concrete actions - not abstract commitments - have to be clearly Dr. Irene Pollach published. Environmental Centre for Corporate Communication communication should come in a less Aarhus School of Business technical form, whilst still Aarhus, Denmark communicating the pertinent facts. If external audiences were to respond to CSR messages with skepticism, the reverse of instilling corporate identity may occur instead. Disclosing environmental practices 4
  • 5. About Us Verity Consulting is a boutique international marketing & communication consultancy specializing in corporate training, senior executive coaching and business advisory services. For more information about Verity’s global services and innovative business solutions, contact us at: +61 4 02211373(Australia) +65 8337 7178 (Singapore) info@verityconsult.com Copyright © 2010 Verity Consulting Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. www.verityconsult.com