5 great ways corporations are sharing their #CSR initiatives!

Walt Whitman once said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging”!

This is certainly true of relevant and honest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports from corporations who want to make a positive impact on the world.

As more and more consumers want to know about the ethics of the companies they buy from, it's just good business for corporations to educate stakeholders about responsible practices, volunteer initiatives and community involvement.

Could sustainability reporting eventually be as common and necessary as nutrition labels on our favourite foods? We hope so! That is why we want to say "Bravo!" to the corporations regularly talking about their CSR programs.

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Take a look at some of the brilliant ways these five companies are highlighting CSR in their communications strategies.

1. Storytelling: Visa takes you on a journey

If companies want to spark real social change they need to inspire not inform. Huffington Post says one of the problems with CSR communication today is that it is used to promote corporate interest and does little to affect social evolution. “In order for CSR communication to make a difference, it has to be impactful in the quantity and quality of response.” With its healthy assortment of moving stories, Visa’s responsibility report demonstrates that the company is more interested in reporting the change it has created than asking for a pat on the back. Website visitors can watch videos about how Visa uses financial technology and expertise to help create a more sustainable economy for Rwanda and help landslide recovery efforts in Brazil. Visa’s stories of positive transformation in developing countries and local communities demonstrates the company’s genuine efforts.

2. Website: Principal Financial puts corporate citizenship front and center

You won’t have to dig through an obscure investor relations tab or a tiny corporate governance link to find Principal Financial’s CSR information. Corporate Citizenship holds a place of prominence as a primary category at the top of their website. A swift swipe of the mouse will connect you to specific CSR topics on the website, and a quick link to a full pdf version of the report. Interested consumers have a host of comprehensive insight into Principal Financial’s community involvement and responsible practices at their fingertips.

3. Design: UPS’s colorful corporate citizenship

For a company who once asked “What can brown do for you?”, UPS has certainly tapped into a more colorful side with its lively corporate citizenship communication. Their most recent report is full of vibrant photographs, illustrations, and infographics that tell their integrated CSR story for them. According to Edelman, when it comes to best practices in CSR reporting,  “Colorful still images, videos, infographics and other visuals help guide the audience and make the experience much more thought-provoking.” With page after colorful page, UPS’s sustainability report is appealing and user-friendly. It's easy to follow their impact, from stakeholder engagement to social and environmental accountability.

4. Impact: Washington Gas keeps it short and sweet

Washington Gas’s 2013 Community Report is entirely separate from their investor relations or governance report and focuses purely on community involvement. The brief and reader-friendly report touches on everything from community involvement, employee volunteerism and engagement, to corporate giving and sustainability. PR firm Cone Communications reiterates the importance of simple yet concise reporting saying, “Don’t let your readers’ eyes glaze over from too many static charts and pages of text. Americans want an engaging and uncomplicated experience.” Washington Gas is giving the people what they want with their simple and succinct report.

5. Measurement: Voya’s quantified difference

Many changes have occurred at Voya Financial in recent years but their dedication to corporate philanthropy remains true. In his leadership letter in Voya’s most recent CSR report, CEO Rodney O. Martin Jr. states, “Treating our people, customers, planet and partners with respect remains a long-standing core principle of our company.” The company’s commitment to CSR is represented throughout their report, but the quantified impact is what really stands out. For example, since their 2007 benchmark year, the company reported a reduction of business miles flown and driven by 48% and 35% respectively. The company also accounts for a 9th consecutive 100% score on the Corporate Equality Index. By sharing solid feedback about CSR initiatives, Voya demonstrates that their report is more than just words on paper. This is a reporting quality that Leone Kraus, Senior Director of Methodologie, indicates is an engaging and appropriate way to share CSR content. In fact, Methodologie’s 2013 report on how Fortune 100 Companies are reporting social and environmental responsibility says that “Social integration and reporting feedback saw a 30% increase, which illustrates how corporations are doing more to ensure their content exists beyond just a standalone report.”

As the demand for companies to take more social and ecological responsibility grows, so too does the call for accurate, honest reporting!

Lisa Manley, CSR Strategy Executive Vice President for Cone Communications says, “The door is wide open for companies to take CSR reporting to entirely new levels and innovate to create experiences that resonate best with each stakeholder segment.”

How will your corporation share your success this year? Tweet us @FrontStream and share your story!

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