More on corporate responsibility communications

My previous post “Why people don’t read your corporate responsibility reports” generated a couple of comments from readers which are worth a look.

So it was with great interest I attended a stakeholder meeting for a major media company on Tuesday, to talk about their report.

I held forth my views that CSR/Sustainability reports are no use as a communication method, and that communications needs to be tailored to different groups, just as marketing is.

I also contributed, grumpily (since I didn’t think the report we were reviewing was very good), that the report was headlined with jargon that turned me off as a reader and didn’t appear to know why it existed.

I chatted with a CSR executive at the company afterwards and said that I thought much more honest messaging about challenges and progress are much more compelling for readers.

That’s why, for example, everyone raves about how Innocent Drinks communicate. They write it as you’d say it. Not rocket science really.

It’s true that I am a little jaded when it comes to CSR communications.

Editing business ‘trade’ magazines for the last nine years means a lot of poor copy writing has come my way!

So it was refreshing to get this message this morning, sent in an accessible email, from the CEO of ANZ Bank in Australia.

I can’t link directly to the email, but this link shows how it looks, almost.

This is not great communications, the company clearly hasn’t spent much on it. The PDF is not particularly professional, to say the least.

But the copy from the CEO is a bit more honest and compelling than the usual corporate speak junk one gets sent.

Here’s the opening line from ANZ’s CEO, Michael Smith:

“‚ÄúThis is a time when we have to exceed community expectations by providing flexible, fast and helpful assistance to individual and small business customers facing hardship, while playing our role in encouraging and supporting economic growth”.

A good start to a CSR report. The short ‘interim’ report only lists one area the company would like to have made progress on, but didn’t.

There must be more, and they should have listed them. But this is not bad, compared with others.

While we are on the subject, Nike do online communications on ethics quite well too. And of course, then there’s Patagonia.

You have to like their “The Good, the Bad, approach to transparency.


  1. Anonymous

    That PDF from ANZ is truly awful!

  2. Anonymous

    While ANZ’s WING business in Cambodia is praiseworthy as an example of inclusive financial services or pro-poor business model, ANZ should disclose how much direct and indirect funding it has received from donor organizations for the project. Isn’t it a bit strange if a global bank takes funding support from donor organizations to roll out its ‘corporate social responsibility programme’? There are other more needy NGOs which have good ideas but no or limited access to funding. The money could have gone to them instead.
    WING is clearly a for-profit business and not a CSR initiative. Should ANZ not make it clear in its communications?

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