Communicating corporate responsibility: Corporate responsibility as a strategic activity

Richard Costa, Director and Head of Corporate Reporting at Ensemble Studio

There is a great deal of ambiguity that shrouds the concept of corporate social responsibility.

Not only is there a lack of consensus as to what it actually means, more than ever companies are also expected to communicate theirs. It’s a riddle wrapping an enigma. How should corporations approach communicating corporate responsibility?

In the second post, “Corporate responsibility as social conformity or CSR”, we looked at the implications for the credibility of communicating corporate responsibility when used to gain social acceptance. Let’s now examine a different approach.

Corporate responsibility as a strategic activity

Corporate social responsibility is a hot topic for contemporary business, and one which organisations are expected to incorporate as an indicator of good practice.

A strategic view of corporate responsibility goes beyond building and maintaining acceptance with societal expectations, to seek competitive advantage. The Executive engages corporate responsibility with a rationale of strategic intent and seek to bake corporate responsibility into the business model.

When an organisation views itself through a reputational lens, it becomes aware that in managing a wide range of social, ethical, and environmental risks, it must communicate externally what it is doing about them. Being open and transparent can greatly benefit responsible corporations.

The communicative aspects of corporate responsibility highlight its role in building relationships with strategic stakeholders.

Businesses can build or maintain their reputation by articulating how their corporate responsibility creates value for their stakeholders.

And in wanting to improve reputation amongst stakeholders, firms increase the quantity and quality of the disclosures in such corporate communication as annual reports.


In the next post, ‘Corporate responsibility as negotiation’, we will conclude this series by examining the idea of corporate responsibility, including its communication, as ongoing negotiation with stakeholders.

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