Sustainability Reporting Still Used As PR Tool

Source: Environmental Leader, 17 September 2008

According to a research by KDPaine & Partners and Brad Rawlins of Brigham Young University, environmental sustainability reporting is still being used as a public relations tool to position companies favorably on environmental issues, instead of holding companies accountable for environmental performance.

In Measuring the Transparency of Environmental Sustainability Reporting, the researchers analyzed the Web sites of Fortune 50 companies to determine the depth and detail of information the companies present on environmental sustainability efforts.

The research found that while the majority of the Fortune 50 are providing some kind of environmental information online, there is room for improvement. The researchers recommend adopting interactive and integrated technologies to enhance the transparency of the reporting process and stakeholder participation.

Three thousand companies are expected to publish a CSR report in 2008, but only about 750 will include a third-party assurance statement to address the report’s credibility and completeness, according to Assure View, a report from Corporate Register.

A recent analysis of the social responsibility reporting efforts of California’s largest corporations found that some, like Chevron, Hewlett-Packard and Walt Disney, publicized their sustainability on their Web sites, while others, like eBay, Google and Apple, rarely mentioned the subject, if at all.

According to Natural Marketing Institute, a growing number of consumers are interested in corporation’s efforts to recycle, reduce waste and reduce air pollution. In July, the institute also reported that overall skepticism in companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives is higher among LOHAS consumers, than general population U.S. adults.

Download the reseach report