Online CSR Reporting
This week’s reading got me to thinking about the trend toward online corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. I work for a large consumer products company and am managing the upcoming launch of our 2009 CSR report. Lately I’ve been deeply involved in discussions about the user experience.
In recent years we’ve moved to an online-only report with printable options. Initially, the web version of our report was almost identical to the hard copy. Over time, it has evolved into a much more easily digestible, user-friendly experience.
Our primary challenge is to satisfy thought leaders while still engaging our employees and consumers. Thought leaders want in-depth information about what goes on behind the scenes of our business – as do our employees, to some extent – while consumers want a very concise snapshot of only the subjects they come into contact with first-hand.
In my view, one of the most important shifts we’ve made this year is to adopt a more approachable tone. We’re now speaking from a first-person perspective. This helps us establish a personal connection with our various audiences and build trust. We’re also inviting feedback and sparking dialogue in certain areas. These strategies happen to align with the BBC’s web principles, specifically number six: “The web is a conversation. Join in: Adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes.”
It’s interesting to see how other consumer products companies have evolved their CSR reporting practices. Nike offers a very visual online experience that incorporates video while Seventh Generation, another CSR leader, is displaying what I’d consider Web 1.5.
 Loosemore, T. (2010, April 6). The BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles. Tomski.com – Tom Loosemore’s Blog. Retrieved from http://www.tomski.com/archive/new_archive/000063.html.