Viewpoint: Cheap talk can cost when it comes to social responsibility
Shareholders today look towards firms not only to maximise financial returns but to do so while focusing on creating value for other societal stakeholders. While there are some companies doing an outstanding job at living these values, others often employ intelligent self-promotional material with a view to greenwash themselves.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability reporting has become mainstream and a massive machinery of corporate communication and public relations professionals are involved to paint a credible picture of businesses worldwide.
It isn’t surprising that the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that only 37 per cent of the 33,000 people questioned across 28 counties believed in the credibility of CEOs. Public trust in CEOs is at its lowest point in about two decades.
While there could be many reasons for falling public trust in CEOs, much of the scepticism is about integrity and the need for managers and leaders to walk the walk. If some CEOs engage in cheap talk, the question is how can one confidently call their bluff? How do you differentiate between corporate communications that are genuine from those that represent mere public posturing?
Photo courtesy of Véronique Debord-Lazaro.