As has been said many times here, words matter. But what too many corporations fail to grasp is that what you say must be backed up by ‘what you do’. Nowhere is this more important than in the area of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility); yet recent examples have provided ample evidence that for many big businesses, this is just a ‘check box’ they only have to be ‘seen’ to care about.
How else can we understand the revelations recently regarding CBA and Chevron? Only lip-service explains how CBA can run its “CAN” ad campaign and claim on its website that its customer commitment includes “complying with the highest level of conduct codes”, while at the same time its CommInsure business has acted with such misconduct. And only lip-service explains how Chevron’s long running “We Agree” campaign includes such claims as “Oil companies should support the communities they’re part of”, while at the same time being one of the most aggressive avoiders of paying tax locally in countries where they operate.
In today’s social media saturated world, this kind of behaviour makes no sense, and particularly when it’s perpetrated by high profile organisations that place such a high premium on the trust associated with their brands.
CSR must be real – you simply can’t successfully and sustainably communicate something you don’t actually do, no matter how you frame it.
In today’s world, you will be found out – just ask CBA and Chevron.