Corporate Eye

Chicken suits, chameleons and the one true way

Were you at Ethical Corporation’s Corporate Responsibility Reporting and Communications conference last week? If you weren’t, you missed a treat.

1 word

The word of the conference, had we been asked to choose one, would have been:


The number of times people urged that companies should display some humility in their corporate social responsibility reporting was striking…

1 central theme

Whether talking about reports, communications, stakeholder groups or engagement approaches, the clear message from many of the discussions was that there is not One True Way of ‘doing’ CSR, of reporting on it or of talking about it.

One size does not fit all

There were, though, lots of examples of different ways that companies had found that worked for them, and so might work as part of someone else’s toolset. It helps to be a chameleon, using different language and information for different groups.


There were many tweet-worthy snippets that came out of the discussion. Here are 4 that I noted down:

Corporate responsibility is not a man in a chicken suit holding a large cheque

Corporate responsibility reporting is not PR jazz hands

The corporate responsibility report is not for communication: no-one reads it for fun

Stop communicating and start talking

A CR report, then, is both more and less than people might think. It isn’t – or shouldn’t be! – spin; it isn’t – or shouldn’t be – about sitting in a bathtub of baked beans; it does matter to the business and it is necessary but not sufficient to explain your approach to responsibility to your various audiences.

6 topics

It wasn’t physically possible to attend all the sessions without a time-turner, so this is my pick of the themes I identified; it would be interesting to see someone else’s selection.

My six:

  • Driving performance: integrated reporting and Board conviction
  • Different stakeholders; different stories
  • Global-local, sector storytelling and authenticity
  • Collaborating with activists
  • Stakeholder outreach
  • The investor view of your CSR work

I hope to look at some of these topics in more detail over the next couple of weeks; I’ll add links in this post as I get to them. Or, of course you could subscribe to our RSS feed.

If you’re intrigued, make sure you get to the next conference; this is my pick, and I’m quite sure others will have gone home with a different set of ideas.

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