Corporate Eye

Does an excellent CSR report mean an excellent website? Part 2

Three weeks ago I started this off with Part 1.  The rationale is taking the excellent Elaine Cohen’s list of Top Ten CSR Reports of 2010 and seeing what these company’s websites look like.

The first five included a few surprises, including probably the most innovative report/website I’ve ever seen (AHA!) and one with no independent website at all (Imphala Clothing).  What will the next five bring?

Westpac

An Australian banking giant which is widely regarded as the leading sustainability bank in the world.

The website is a lesson in quality over quantity and presentation.  It contains just about anything and everything I could think of: highlights include a section on engagement with indigenous people and a frontpage link to employee involvement in the community.

What gives it real bite and backbone is that each section has an associated policy, statement or protocol.  There may be a lack of figures and KPIs, but when the business has clearly thought through its approach to this degree you know it means business.

SAP

Multinational German based software company and leading the sector on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Elaine says she’s not a fan of all-online reports;  I have no problem with them, especially when they are as well planned and laid out as SAP’s is.  However a big issue is that this leaves the CSR section on the main website as little more than a list of organisations the company is engaged with and very little linkage from the main website to the report. So, online report: excellent; main website content and integration, not so hot.

Burt’s Bees

US based international company specialising in natural personal care products.

I’m a big fan of Burt’s Bees in the shops but I’m afraid their website lets them down.  After a lot of hunting I found one page about “Humanitarianism and Social Responsibility”, although it has to be admitted that because of the nature of the company there’s a lot of CSR-type content embedded within other pages.

However the big trouble is that I automatically get redirected from the .COM to the .CO.UK site.  This latter doesn’t have the CSR content Elaine points to nor does it have the content referenced in the company’s sustainability report press release.  This is a failing:  it’s perfectly acceptable to have a slimmed down regional website, but a visitor should be able to get easily to any other country’s site or the main corporate site if they wish to.

IMC2

Privately owned US marketing company.

There’s very little CSR content on the website except for the report.  However what is there is enough to give the impression that when they talk about bringing sustainability to marketing it’s not just sales talk.

Walmart

Huge multinational US based retailer; the largest company in the world in 2010.

There is a very strong CSR presence on the Walmart corporate site, with four out of ten of the main headings falling squarely within the CSR arena.  Each goes into all the areas it addresses in admirable depth and it’s really good to see multimedia films being used alongside PDFs to give more information to the visitor.

There is, however, a feeling of disjointedness between the subsections and regular sidebar items such as “Related Information” isn’t always on the same part of the page. This makes taking the information in difficult.  It’s as though too much information has been squeezed into too small a box.  All in all good, but you’d hope the biggest would also be the best.

Conclusion

Anyone looking at designing or updating a CSR website would do well to look at these ten websites and take note of the good and bad points they all have.  SAP and AHA! really stand out for technical ability while CocaCola is very well organised and Westpac hits the nail perfectly for quality and transparency.

Picture Credit: two thumbs up by edenpictures under Creative Commons Attribution License.

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A former CTO, Chris has a broad and varied background. He’s been involved with blue chips, consultancies & SMEs across a wide variety of sectors and has worked in Europe, the Middle East and Australia. In 2007 he decided to combine his knowledge of business and IT with his passion for all things sustainable and has been busy writing ever since. However, his greatest ambition remains to brew the perfect cup of coffee.
 
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