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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an idea that corporations have to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all
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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : July/Aug 2003

Between Blue and Yellow
Proclaim the News

by Katie Sosnowchik
Editorial Director

Between Blue and Yellow

Having been in the publishing field for more than 20 years now, albeit all of it spent in editorial, I have had my fair share of encounters with the advertising/ marketing side. During that time I have grown to appreciate this element of the communications game; advertising and marketing communications is an essential part of any organization’s success. To quote consumer behavior expert Stuart Henderson Britt, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”

In fact, the results of the fourth annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Monitor Survey makes me think that a lot of companies are operating in the dark, so to speak. The survey, conducted by Environics International, found that significant proportions of people in most countries are unable to name a socially responsible company. There could be two reasons for this: one is that no socially responsible companies exist. Two is that those companies who are acting in a socially responsible manner are doing a poor job of letting people know about it.

More than three years into my role as editor of green@work, I know that the former is simply not true. We have been able to easily fill the pages of each and every issue with news of positive environmental actions from many players in the corporate arena. Could it be, then, that socially responsible companies are not adequately tooting their own proverbial horns?

While it’s true that CSR reporting is becoming more commonplace—some 2,500 companies worldwide, including half of the Global 250, produce environmental/social reports—its potential remains underutilized from a marketing standpoint. Indeed, reports the Environics study, corporate social responsibility has great appeal to consumers. Three of every four people across the world who were surveyed expressed interest in learning more about corporate social responsibility initiatives by companies. Consumers, especially in wealthy markets, also feel empowered to influence corporate behavior—thus suggesting that corporate communications may be well received by consumers.

In this issue, we turn our attention to two companies who have told their corporate stories in an award-winning manner. While the pair have traveled different paths in their social responsibility journeys, Chiquita Brands International and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. shared the limelight as co-winners of the first annual U.S. Sustainability Reporting Awards sponsored by CERES and the ACCA. Ben & Jerry’s, long-admired for its environmental commitment, set an example, said the judges, for capturing “the feel and scope of sustainability, both in the balance of social, environmental and economic coverage, as well as the balance of vision, policy and management systems and performance information.” Chiquita, once the target of environmental criticism, impressed the judges with its willingness to openly discuss the company’s goals, challenges and areas for improvement.

We happily promote this pair’s progress. Why? Because although we do not advocate greenwashing or the production of a corporate social report simply for the sake of saying your company has one, what we are championing is the widespread promotion of solid and factual corporate social initiatives. If you have a great story to tell, why not proclaim it—and loudly at that?


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