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Monday, January 21, 2013

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting Goes Global

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are important concerns for today’s business managers. They are increasingly finding that it is not just what businesses do to boost their sustainability credentials that matters, but it is also how these actions are communicated to all their stakeholders. Numerous studies show that a company’s commitment to CSR and sustainability is a serious consideration by customers, investors, employees and business partners. As businesses become more global, it is important to ensure that social responsibility and sustainability messages are successfully conveyed to multilingual audiences via professional document translation experts.

In a Harvard Business Review report on CSR, Porter and Kramer explained why corporate social responsibility has become so important. The report states, "Myriad organizations rank companies on the performance of their CSR and, despite sometimes questionable methodologies, these rankings attract considerable publicity. As a result, CSR has emerged as an inescapable priority for business leaders in every country."1

CSR reports have become an essential part of business reputation enhancement. There are now international collective sustainability efforts such as the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), with which global firms need to communicate their involvement. According to a Journal of Business Ethics report, “91 percent of U.S. businesses have formal reporting policies in place relating to their sustainability credentials."2 A University of California sustainability report concluded, “A strong reputation is widely perceived to be the most valuable asset of a firm, and sustainability has become an important component of corporate reputation.”3

Companies may also face negative publicity from activist organizations and other external sources. For example:

  • Nestlé, the world’s largest purveyor of bottled water, has become a major target in the global debate about access to fresh water, despite the fact that Nestlé’s bottled water sales consume just 0.0008% of the world’s fresh water supply. 
  • Pharmaceutical companies discovered that they were expected to respond to the AIDS pandemic in Africa even though it was far removed from their primary product lines and markets. 
  • Fast food and packaged food companies are now being held responsible for obesity and poor nutrition.4

In light of such challenges, many high profile businesses are making it a priority to promote their socially responsible and sustainable credentials. According to a large number of customer-focused CSR studies, providing a CSR report is worth it from a commercial perspective. A Core Communications study found that 73 percent of consumers said they want more environmental information on product packaging.5 The same company’s research in 2010 discovered 80 percent of buyers would switch to a different similarly positioned brand if it supported a cause they agreed with.

Clear Communications are a Must

No strategic CSR plan can succeed without a carefully conceived communications strategy that clearly conveys pertinent information to investors, employees and customers, from corporate reporting to consumer packaging. Moreover, CSR communications should be multilingual to deliver the greatest impact to their various constituencies. As businesses grow their global footprint, partnership with a qualified document translation provider will help ensure CSR and sustainability reporting is communicated effectively in all markets.


1 Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, “Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility,” Harvard Business Review, December 2006.
2 Russell Lacey, et al., “Longitudinal Effects of CSR on Customer Relationships,” Journal of Business Ethics, December 2010.
3 John Peloza, et al, “Sustainability: How Stakeholder Perceptions Differ from Corporate Reality,” University of California Berkely, Fall 2012.
4 Porter and Kramer.
5 “Green Gap Trend Tracker Fact Sheet,” Core Communications, 2012.


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Merrill Brink International, a leading language services provider with more than 30 years of experience, offers comprehensive, scalable internationalization, localization and globalization services for global companies. Our services include professional business translation, document translation, technical translation, website translation and more. We provide expert software localization and website localization services, supported by comprehensive testing services, including software testing and website testing. Merrill Brink is a recognized leading provider of software translation, medical translation and automotive translation. We also offer extensive legal document translation services including legal document review and machine translation. Contact us for more information.