Q1 2014 green trophy

The “Best Content” series brings you a handful of the most thought-provoking and informative articles and reports related to CSR communications published over the last quarter, broken down into bite-size pieces for your convenience.

The Surprising Link Between Language and Corporate Responsibility
Language, of course, shapes how we perceive the world. A recent study examined language’s effects on business, specifically. Researchers asked whether “a company’s use of language, particularly by the CEO and other top executives, guide its business philosophies and decisions?” They learned that the grammar of a language – how sentences are structured – does have an effect on the success of CSR efforts. How does the use of English in business compare to German, Arabic, or Chinese? And what’s the impact on CSR? Find out by reading more here.

Visualizing Sustainability
As Getty’s Business magazine Curve puts it, “sustainability is still a matter of perception.” Companies now “must create ‘shared value’ and take the lead in bringing business and society back together” and this means rethinking brand with sustainability in mind. This is what GE did when they rebranded in 2005: ecomagination “showed that a company could not only push for environmental change, but could also drive society through innovation while still caring about profits.” In a world that increasingly cannot ignore the human impact on the environment, this article explores how companies, such as IBM and Sony, are making sustainability a central part of their business. Read about these what sustainability in business can look like here.

How to Make Smart Social Investments That Pay Off
Some CSR programs are more effective or fruitful than others. By taking a look at Goldman Sachs’ recent “$50 million seed contribution to a new fund aimed at helping close the credit gap for women-owned businesses in developing countries,” Inc. explores what makes CSR programs most valuable. For example, the article points out that too often, CSR initiatives are seen “as write-offs,” and for many companies, “it’s just the act of giving that matters.” But smart investments can go a very long way. For example, research shows that “economically empowering women boosts GDP growth, productivity, and per capital income, and helps to create healthy durable spending cycles” – so Goldman Sachs’ investment is one “that seems highly likely to pay off.” Read more about making sensible CSR investments here.

Finance Execs Need to Get More Involved in Sustainability Reporting
Sustainability reports may not usually be on the top of a finance executives’ mind. But Accounting Today took a look at a report published in January, which found that “involvement in sustainability reporting adds credibility and confidence in the measurement, data collection and analysis process” – yet “financial executives are not as involved in corporate social responsibility matters and reporting as they should be.” As the article explains, sustainability reporting is about more than just marketing or PR, but should become part of corporate strategy to demonstrate how companies create value in capitals, such as “intellectual capital, financial capital, environmental capital and so forth.” Take a look at the study, “Sustainability goals and reporting,” and read Accounting Today’s analysis here.