No more (printed) CSR reports please!

Another week, another batch of corporate sustainability and CSR reports arrive at the Ethical Corporation offices.

Most are the usual unengaging corporate speak, and must compete with for editorial attention with blogs, independent newsletters, tip offs, original interviews and our prejudices.

Very rarely does one get read by our three editorial staff.

They are just too dauntingly dull to pull out the no doubt one or two interesting nuggets from, compared to other communications formats we get.

And they are hard to recycle. Last week I took another 10 kilo pile of reports on my desk and tried to figure out how to recycle them to avoid more waste in UK land fill.

It seems these days that the duller a company’s CR communications, the bigger the report.

The interesting ones (Unilever, Centrica, Nike, BT, etc) have already figured out more engaging formats like chatty brochures, pithy summaries or cool (ok, cool for a big company) email newsletters.

However, for us, the bigger the CR report, the less its likely to be read, the more it costs to recycle (and we are not great at that, or as good as we should be, we admit) and the more they are likely to give our cleaner a hernia as we throw away 20 at a time.

So here’s a plea to companies: save our collective hernias and the environment.

Stop wasting your shareholders money with bad communications and STOP sending us printed CSR reports!

Instead, post your full PDF and reporting to your website (where you should make them engaging and interesting) and then use creative low carbon means to engage the media and other stakeholders.

The most useful latest print CSR report I got served as a mouse mat before too much coffee got spilled on it and it also made its way into the bin.

So, please, save the carbon, the money and engage us with more creativity please. Even an emailed press release and link is far better than current kilos of paper and metal.

Toby Webb, Editor

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