The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Strategic CSR - Sustainability Reports

The article in the url below demonstrates one way that firms are responding to external pressures for CSR—sustainability reports:
"More companies in the S&P 500 index are touting their efforts to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, reduce waste and improve their performance on other nonfinancial fronts. Last year, a record 72% of companies in the index filed sustainability reports, according to Governance & Accountability Institute Inc. That's up significantly from 53% in 2012 and 20% in 2011."
While, on the surface, this is encouraging; in reality, these documents reveal the limits of the ad hoc approach that has existed to date:
"The details disclosed by each company are selective, and often vary significantly among industry peers. Some companies use third-party benchmarks, while others only occasionally include hard numbers."
Until we are able to compare firms across industries, using common standards that measure what we think is important (rather than what firms are willing to tell us), these reports will remain selective and of limited value. While the title of the article heralds the fact that sustainability reports are gaining traction, the more important point is whether they are helping us understand which firms are meeting the needs and expectations of their broad range of stakeholders. In spite of the article's upbeat framing, that is much less clear.
Have a good weekend.
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Sustainability Reports Gain Traction
By Emily Chasan
June 10, 2014
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final