Do Companies “Walk the Walk”?
By Magni Global
Interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has increased rapidly over the past decade. An ever-growing percentage of publicly-held companies are attempting to align their company brands with CSR through the production of brochures. Often these documents are expertly produced with expensive graphics and agreeable explanations of companies’ various environmental, social justice, and community development priorities.
But have companies really made a positive impact on society? Are their communications an accurate reflection of their impact, or more of a marketing campaign that is disconnected from real operations? Simply put, many companies “talk the talk”, but it is most important to identify those that “walk the walk”. Assessing said companies, however, is more complex than reading glossy brochures and requires dedicated and independent research into a company’s policies, operations, and leadership.
The foundation of CSR is honesty and transparency. Assessing a company for its CSR achievements needs to consider the actual behavior of the employees. Are their day-to-day activities consistent with their corporate social responsibility messaging? Does the company have the structures, controls, and enforcement mechanisms to reduce the risk of bad behavior?
To get this granular information, investors can refer to or sponsor behavioral assessments of companies. Behavioral assessments by independent organizations provide a much better understanding of corporate governance, as well as the social aspects of company ethics. In addition, many of the environmental aspects of a company can be better understood.
Company-produced communications are focused on intent, while a deeper look allows an understanding of behavior and everyday practices — whether a company “walks the walk”. Actions always speak louder than words.