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Building the Corporate Sustainability Reputation


Building the Corporate Sustainability Reputation

Alistair Hodgett offers advice on how to build a company’s reputation for sustainability.

Many of our clients place a high value on sustainability and in developing reputation management activities that realise the value of the investments they have made in sustainability. This may be one element of a broader Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, but in some industries, it represents the largest piece of communications outside engagement with consumers on products and services.

In a McKinsey & Co study released this week, the authors note that “reputation management has the highest value-creation potential” of all sustainability activities (based on a survey of more than 3,000 executives). The survey results also indicated that companies find reputation hard to manage, in part because there is no “one-size-fits-all approach” that can be adopted and implemented. I recommend you read the article if you work with clients on these issues or if you are have responsibility for CSR within your company, but here is one element in the research that I found particularly interesting.

When the survey examined what reputation-management actions companies take, it found that whereas some industries match activities to the areas of highest value, others fail to align their activities in this way. For example, extractive companies (such as oil and gas exploration companies) identify investment in communities in which they operate as the highest source of value, and also undertake activities in this area more than any other. By contract, financial services companies cite employee volunteering as the most common activity, despite also ranking it the lowest for value creation.

How should communications support company reputation in the area of sustainability? In discussing sustainability and CSR strategies, focusing on the value creation of an activity aids the development of a communications programme that can have a demonstrable positive impact on company reputation. If in addition, the discussion takes into account the dynamic environment for company reputation – shaped by the media, NGOs and political and regulatory actors – it favours a communications programme that is capable of taking advantage of opportunities and responding to challenges in real time.

Key points include:

  • Content and goals

  • Leveraging credibility

  • Focusing on value

Read the full article, Building company reputation for sustainability, on LinkedIn.