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Reputation, Reporting and
Communications
February 19th 2015
Lecturer: Tobias Webb
Tobiaswebb.blogspot.com
Corporate Reputation: What and Why
• Driver of value?
• Perceptions of
product quality and
likely behaviour?
• ‘Your most
...
Why does Reputation matter?
• 301 business leaders from
29 countries across 28
industries participated in
the 2014 Reputat...
Theorists? MIT Sloan/Imperial
The results of the survey showed that the company’s reputation for corporate
social responsi...
Consumers will pay for
sustainability/CSR/Reputation
• A tempting myth which CEOs still often believe
• Reality says they ...
The vague and the vacuous?
• Lots of expert advice is all rather PR/jargon
oriented and communications orientated.
• For e...
What can companies do? Cliches..
• Transparency
• Honesty
• Authenticity
• Humility
• Open ness
• Listening
• Responsivene...
Challenges to reputation improvement
• “No need to say more
than we need to”
• Legal risk
• Perceptions of open
ness vs. e...
Can you do the right thing and still
have a bad reputation? Yes
• Look at Nike, Gap, Adidas,
Primark etc
• Look at the Che...
So why bother? Back to the business
case for CR/Sustainable Business
• License to Operate
• Employee motivation
• Bank Acc...
Who has the best reputation?
• Apparently, according to the “Reputation
Institute” consultancy the: “Top three CSR
reputat...
Corporate Sustainability and CSR
Reporting: What’s it all about?
• On the surface, massively
dull PR, as if someone
was tr...
Really?
• Yes because to produce
an acceptable report or
website on sustainability
of any note the company
has to collect ...
So where did CSR/ Sustainability
reporting come from?
• Some companies
produced reports
in the 1970s
• Accelerated
2000’s ...
So who reads them?
• Boards and senior managers read
them as they sign them off.
• That’s what does most of the good
in re...
Does reporting do any good?
Under-studied area. One working paper from Harvard and London
Business School says yes:
• ...f...
Future of reporting?
• More of it as Stock Exchanges,
some investors,
institutions/NGOs and
Governments demand more
inform...
Areas for further research
“…increasing number of countries are adopting disclosure regulations similar to
the ones consid...
Case Study: Interface
Corporate Responsibility
Communications
I Conclusions: Interface
• A story based on purpose matters most
• Demonstrating top level buy in over a long
time vital
•...
I Final conclusions: Interface
• Shows that a medium sized company ($1
billion turnover) can make a big impact
• Internati...
Case study: Primark
Corporate Responsibility
Communications
The background
• Popular UK fast
fashion retailer
• Owned by FTSE 100
listed group ABF
• From 2005: NGO
accusations of
swe...
2008 onwards: Pressure mounts
• BBC allegations of
sweatshop
conditions both in
India and the UK
aired
• NGOs and media
de...
The response
• Boycotts don’t usually
affect sales much,
BUT:
• Reputational damage
in media was
undoubted
• Primark dispu...
Renewed vision statement:
“As an international brand with a global supply
chain we have a responsibility to act ethically....
Other substantive changes
• Integrated systemic
operational changes by
March 2009/March
2010
• Hired Senior Head of
Ethica...
Primark: Conclusions
• Business “head in the sand” until 2008
• Reacted unusually in pursuing journalist(s)
• Made substan...
Primark: Conclusions
• Used partnerships, pilots to drive change
• Uses multi-media on the website. Humble tone: Not
activ...
Primark: Final Conclusions
• Financial impact of scandal and boycotts was not key
driver (little impact)
• Moral/Reputatio...
15 Things Good Corporate CR
Communicators Get Right
1. They have clear websites
navigating readers to clear
targets
2. They demonstrate both
an understanding of the
global ch...
3. They use their reporting as
the basis for communications
campaigns, not as the
campaign itself
4. They are not afraid o...
5. They use social media to
communicate on sustainability,
either via a corporate account
or by specific accounts
6. They ...
7. They offer news feeds on
progress
8. They showcase critical
stakeholder voices and
suggestions for improvement
9. They partner with credible
academic institutions and NGOs –
because science matters!
10. They talk about how
sustainabi...
11. They don’t forget to link
sustainability with both social
issues and governance, global
and local
12. They host public...
13. They seek crowd-sourced solutions and encourage and fund
innovation
14. They are clear about sustainability as a busin...
15. They are clear about their
corporate power and influence
and have a public debate
about how that power and
influence a...
Further CR Communications Reading:
http://www.slideshare.net/Tobiaswebb/how-to-
shout-about-sustainability-effectively
htt...
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
Lecture Seven -  Reputation, Reporting and Communications
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Lecture Seven - Reputation, Reporting and Communications

Presentation looking how the issues of reputation, reporting and communications in corporate sustainability. It focuses on drivers, practices, outcomes and emerging issues for large companies around the world.

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Lecture Seven - Reputation, Reporting and Communications

  1. 1. Reputation, Reporting and Communications February 19th 2015 Lecturer: Tobias Webb Tobiaswebb.blogspot.com
  2. 2. Corporate Reputation: What and Why • Driver of value? • Perceptions of product quality and likely behaviour? • ‘Your most important asset’? • Vague notion that’s hard to quantify? • All of the above…
  3. 3. Why does Reputation matter? • 301 business leaders from 29 countries across 28 industries participated in the 2014 Reputation Leaders study • Only 16% feel their organization has the full capabilities to manage reputation. • 65% of business leaders saying that reputation management is a top priority for executives and the Board of Directors.
  4. 4. Theorists? MIT Sloan/Imperial The results of the survey showed that the company’s reputation for corporate social responsibility had a greater effect on consumers’ willingness to overlook negative information about the company than the company’s reputation for being customer-oriented (defined as the extent to which a business is viewed as being caring and attentive to customer needs) or for being oriented toward service quality. These results suggest that a dollar invested in corporate social responsibility initiatives would buy greater insurance against negative information than a dollar invested in either service-quality orientation or customer orientation. However. Surveys are one thing. The reality of boosting sales by ethical reputation is more complicated.
  5. 5. Consumers will pay for sustainability/CSR/Reputation • A tempting myth which CEOs still often believe • Reality says they want to trust the brand, despite surveys saying they will buy more socially responsible products. • Reality is that nearly 500 ecolabels confuse consumers and beyond ‘deep green’ niches they just want companies to take care of the issues – and they won’t pay any more for the privilege • Professor Craig Smith on Consumers and Sweatshops
  6. 6. The vague and the vacuous? • Lots of expert advice is all rather PR/jargon oriented and communications orientated. • For example. • Look on Google Scholar since 2011. There’s very few studies looking at reputation and sustainability in a rigourous way • Lots of organisations out there adding ‘snake oil’ science and measurement of reputation
  7. 7. What can companies do? Cliches.. • Transparency • Honesty • Authenticity • Humility • Open ness • Listening • Responsiveness • Why don’t these happen?
  8. 8. Challenges to reputation improvement • “No need to say more than we need to” • Legal risk • Perceptions of open ness vs. expectations of stakeholders • Career limiting fears of radical transparency given social media risk
  9. 9. Can you do the right thing and still have a bad reputation? Yes • Look at Nike, Gap, Adidas, Primark etc • Look at the Chemical industry, Mining companies… • Companies behaving best in class often do not get credit outside the sustainability / CSR world • Understanding their work is hard. Valuing it for shareholders and society even harder
  10. 10. So why bother? Back to the business case for CR/Sustainable Business • License to Operate • Employee motivation • Bank Account of Goodwill • Partner of choice • Trusted brand • Academic and business case study • Be popular on the internet • Make CEOs feel good when they go to Davos
  11. 11. Who has the best reputation? • Apparently, according to the “Reputation Institute” consultancy the: “Top three CSR reputation winners in 2014 are Google, Microsoft and The Walt Disney Company” • But according to GlobeScan it’s Unilever, Patagonia, Interface and M&S on sustainability. So, good we’ve sorted that out then…
  12. 12. Corporate Sustainability and CSR Reporting: What’s it all about? • On the surface, massively dull PR, as if someone was trying to sell you on the idea of spending time in a library full of propaganda • But also significantly important because of the process sustainability and CSR reporting takes a company through
  13. 13. Really? • Yes because to produce an acceptable report or website on sustainability of any note the company has to collect lots of data • Data collection can improve performance • Imagine if facilities managers are asked for data – and what they are doing to improve performance
  14. 14. So where did CSR/ Sustainability reporting come from? • Some companies produced reports in the 1970s • Accelerated 2000’s onwards • 4000/5000+ produced each year world-wide • Regulatory disclosure drivers increasing slowly (EU, China, Singapore, South Africa, Brazil, often Stock Exchange related)
  15. 15. So who reads them? • Boards and senior managers read them as they sign them off. • That’s what does most of the good in reporting. • Assurance providers are paid to read them! • ESG analysts might read them. • Some employees, potential and existing, but few compared to overall numbers. • Journalists / NGOs when things go wrong! • Trade press, some mainstream media, occasionally. • Most met with deafening silence
  16. 16. Does reporting do any good? Under-studied area. One working paper from Harvard and London Business School says yes: • ...find increased propensity to receive assurance to increase disclosure credibility in the case of South Africa, and increased propensity to adopt reporting guidelines to increase disclosure comparability in both China and South Africa. • In contrast, treated firms in Denmark and Malaysia did not increase disclosure. • Danish firms responded by embedding environmental and social factors in their supply chain management, and by signing on the United Nations Global Compact while Malaysian firms adopted reporting guidelines. • (No) evidence that the disclosure regulations adversely affected shareholders.
  17. 17. Future of reporting? • More of it as Stock Exchanges, some investors, institutions/NGOs and Governments demand more information on material issues (GRI / CDP) • Integrated reports: “...a concise communication about how an organization's strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value in the short, medium and long term.”
  18. 18. Areas for further research “…increasing number of countries are adopting disclosure regulations similar to the ones considered…. …firms respond differently across countries, it is important to evaluate how companies respond differently across distinct contexts. …more research is needed in order to understand how companies change resource allocations and investment decisions as a response to changes in disclosure regulations. Finally, a fruitful avenue for future research is investigating changes in the demand for non-financial information. While the disclosure regulations in some cases increase the supply of such information, we still know little about how they affect the demand across different stakeholders.”
  19. 19. Case Study: Interface Corporate Responsibility Communications
  20. 20. I Conclusions: Interface • A story based on purpose matters most • Demonstrating top level buy in over a long time vital • “Change the world by changing our industry” message strong • Social media not just for B2C companies • Campaigning for level playing fields helps the business AND drives credibility if sharing attitude is genuine
  21. 21. I Final conclusions: Interface • Shows that a medium sized company ($1 billion turnover) can make a big impact • International community work (NetWorks) linked to closed loop ethos. Helps demonstrate world-wide company focus and potential for sustainability to help communities and the business in a commercial proposition
  22. 22. Case study: Primark Corporate Responsibility Communications
  23. 23. The background • Popular UK fast fashion retailer • Owned by FTSE 100 listed group ABF • From 2005: NGO accusations of sweatshop conditions
  24. 24. 2008 onwards: Pressure mounts • BBC allegations of sweatshop conditions both in India and the UK aired • NGOs and media delighted to report in detail • Boycotts, bad PR
  25. 25. The response • Boycotts don’t usually affect sales much, BUT: • Reputational damage in media was undoubted • Primark disputed journalist claims and launched mini-counter offensive
  26. 26. Renewed vision statement: “As an international brand with a global supply chain we have a responsibility to act ethically. We embrace this responsibility as an opportunity to be a great force for good. Primark is committed to providing the best possible value for our customers, but not at the expense of the people who make our products”
  27. 27. Other substantive changes • Integrated systemic operational changes by March 2009/March 2010 • Hired Senior Head of Ethical Trade • Doubled Ethical Trade team 2009/10 • Buyers need sign-off from Ethical Trade head for new suppliers • 100 buyers given intensive Ethical Trade training • Engaged with NGOs in meetings via Ethical Trading Initiative
  28. 28. Primark: Conclusions • Business “head in the sand” until 2008 • Reacted unusually in pursuing journalist(s) • Made substantive internal changes (Ethical Trade Director, support staff, senior level buy- in and stakeholder engagement)
  29. 29. Primark: Conclusions • Used partnerships, pilots to drive change • Uses multi-media on the website. Humble tone: Not active on youtube/twitter/FB yet • Confident enough to pay for “Times 100 Case Study” • Now welcomes challenges from NGOs/others
  30. 30. Primark: Final Conclusions • Financial impact of scandal and boycotts was not key driver (little impact) • Moral/Reputational impact on management • Reputation ‘recovered’ with NGOs and media • Now much better attuned to supply chain risk
  31. 31. 15 Things Good Corporate CR Communicators Get Right
  32. 32. 1. They have clear websites navigating readers to clear targets 2. They demonstrate both an understanding of the global challenges, and their role in the world.
  33. 33. 3. They use their reporting as the basis for communications campaigns, not as the campaign itself 4. They are not afraid of honest debate about challenges and progress
  34. 34. 5. They use social media to communicate on sustainability, either via a corporate account or by specific accounts 6. They publish regular performance data and updates
  35. 35. 7. They offer news feeds on progress 8. They showcase critical stakeholder voices and suggestions for improvement
  36. 36. 9. They partner with credible academic institutions and NGOs – because science matters! 10. They talk about how sustainability fits with business strategy – and how that will improve
  37. 37. 11. They don’t forget to link sustainability with both social issues and governance, global and local 12. They host public debates which are streamed online and do not always have themselves at the centre
  38. 38. 13. They seek crowd-sourced solutions and encourage and fund innovation 14. They are clear about sustainability as a business opportunity
  39. 39. 15. They are clear about their corporate power and influence and have a public debate about how that power and influence are used, and report on progress, positive and negative
  40. 40. Further CR Communications Reading: http://www.slideshare.net/Tobiaswebb/how-to- shout-about-sustainability-effectively http://www.slideshare.net/Tobiaswebb/csr- ethics-and-sustainability-communications-then- and-now

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