There has been a much-increased interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) over the past decade. An ever-growing percentage of publicly-held companies have attempted to align the company brand with CSR through production of brochures. Often these documents are expertly produced with expensive graphics and pleasing explanations of various environmental, social justice, and community development priorities of the company.
But have companies really made a positive impact on society? Are their communications an accurate reflection of the company, or more of a marketing campaign that is disconnected from real operations? Simply put, many companies offer “talk the talk”, but what is most important is to identify the ones that “walk the walk”. Assessing the “walk the walk” is more complex and requires researching a company beyond glossy brochures.
The foundation of CSR is honesty and transparency. Assessing a company for its CSR achievements needs to consider the actual behavior of the employees. Are their day-to-day activities consistent with corporate social responsibility? Does the company have the structures, controls, and enforcement mechanisms to reduce the risk of bad behavior?
Behavioral assessments of companies can be achieved and provide a much better understanding of corporate governance, as well as the social aspects of company ethics. In addition, many of the environmental aspects of a company can be better understood.
Company-produced communications are focused on intent, while a deeper look allows an understanding of behavior and whether the company “walks the walk”. After all, actions speak louder than words.