What Is the Role of Communication in Responsible Business?
A harmony between companies’ actions and their stakeholders’ expectations is becoming the highest priority for companies in today’s world. Increasingly more companies are becoming aware of the risks and opportunities that responsible entrepreneurship entails for companies’ reputation.
According to a Meaningful Brands® survey conducted by Havas, if 74 % of all brands disappeared for good, most consumers would not notice. As a result, companies that focus on improving society and making their customers’ lives easier, healthier, and more sustainable are getting to the forefront. Crucial are meaningful activities which make companies more trustworthy and their key stakeholders more involved. According to the Havas survey, meaningful brands see their marketing KPIs perform 100 % better overall compared with less meaningful brands. In addition, these brands outperform the stock market by 133 %. In order to be able to adequately appreciate companies’ sustainable activities, stakeholders first need to learn about them. However, appropriate communication is often a missing and critical link in responsible business practice.
Thomas Kolster, a world-renowned expert on responsible advertising, points out that many companies do not often realize that marketing and corporate social responsibility are two rather different areas. As he says,“While the world of marketing is about emotions, sustainability and CSR rely on complexity and rationality. Despite this, these two worlds can be effectively linked together.” According to Thomas, advertisements today are often aimed only at supporting consumption. In order to be able to communicate meaningfully and to good purpose, companies cannot be afraid to be ground breakers in their area of business. Companies must learn to empathize with their target group – with their needs and expectations.
So, what should companies do to discover the real worth of advertising and overcome public distrust ? One of the most important tasks for companies is to remain transparent.
Transparency brings customers. Be always open!
Many stakeholders still think that advertising is only eye candy hiding real problems faced by companies. This statement can be rebutted if you do not pretend to be doing good but start to do business really responsibly. Information spreads quickly, and the business world is becoming more and more transparent and interlinked.
Therefore, remember to follow principles such as self-reflection, criticalness, authenticity, and corporate social responsibility. One of the effective communication channels you can use to inform consumers or your company’s partners about your sustainable activities is a regular report on corporate social responsibility. Using a simple and comprehensible language and nice visual material, it will help you inform all stakeholders (i.e., employees, customers, suppliers, non-profit organizations, etc.) about your efforts, projects, and the results you have achieved in areas that you care for.
Moreover, in 2015 the National Council of the Slovak Republic adopted an amendment to Act No. 431 / 2002 on accounting, as amended (hereinafter only “Accounting Act”) which obliges companies to publish information on corporate social responsibility and diversity policies in their annual reports. According to the amendment, this obligation applies to public interest companies whose average number of employees exceeds 500. More information can be found in our recommendations on Corporate Responsibility Report.
Author: Tatiana Čaplová (Pontis Foundation)