Credibility gap persists around companies’ CSR communications

The credibility of corporate communications around issues of social and environmental responsibility is an increasingly serious problem for companies, according to GlobeScan’s latest global public tracking. In the ten countries tracked by GlobeScan over the past decade, fewer than two in five (38%) now say they believe companies communicate honestly about their social and environmental performance. Other findings reveal a consensus view that companies embrace CSR not because they are genuinely committed to it, but in order to improve their images.
This proportion is particularly low in the world’s most developed economies, where well under a third feel that corporate CSR communications are credible.
Our latest data also suggests that, by failing to address the credibility gap, companies may be missing the chance to engage constructively with an increasingly receptive public. An average of 72 percent in the same countries say they are “very interested” in learning more about what companies are doing to be socially and environmentally responsible—a figure that has risen sharply in many countries over recent years.
There is unlikely to be a single solution to the lack of credibility of companies’ communications around social and environmental responsibility. A franker approach to challenges that companies are facing, the increased use of independent third parties to critically appraise companies’ reporting, and an embrace of social media are all likely to play important roles.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 1, 2012
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.