A recent international survey by GlobeScan Inc. (formerly Environics International) reveals that consumers in North America, Europe, and Australia are consulting corporate social and environmental reports more commonly than originally thought. Knowledge of a companys social report also appears to improve consumer impressions of the company and positively affects their purchasing behavior. All told, these findings present a strong business case for the general public being a potential target audience for corporate social and environmental reporting.
"Corporate reports face strong competition for attention from other information sources," says Chris Coulter, Director of CSR Research at GlobeScan. "These reports are generally not meant for the general public, but rather for investors, internal and selected external stakeholders, and for people who are specifically looking for such information. We did not expect to see that an audience for CSR reports does in fact exist among the general public."
Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative, says "these findings are evidence of the impressive progress made in developing a global CSR reporting movement with international standards. I am encouraged to see such a relatively large audience for something that did not even exist just five years ago."