Have you heard people talk about CSR reports, but never really known what that referred to? Don’t worry! These reports have only grown in relevancy relatively recently, and you can find out all you need to know here.

CSR stands for corporate social responsibility. As their name indicates, these reports are important both for business and society.

What is a CSR report?

CSR reports reflect a growing belief that businesses should positively and proactively contribute to the societies in which they operate. Businesses can use their CSR reports to both pledge and prove their commitment to social responsibility.

A CSR report shares any successes the company has had. It also outlines objectives for future work. It’s a formal document that evaluates how a company’s operations interact with the outside world.

In this report, you should expect a thorough analysis of environmental and social impact. If a business has taken additional measures to improve the ethics and sustainability of its operations, that’s usually explained here.

Businesses use CSR reports to keep track of, announce, and improve their overall impact. An annual CSR report allows them to check in with their progress and strategize for the year ahead.

Given the ongoing climate crisis, consumers are more conscious than ever regarding the environmental contributions of different companies. In a CSR report, a business can account for its actions and share its short and long-term plans for improvement.

A CSR report substantiates a company’s corporate responsibility statement. Rather than simply sharing stated values, it records actions and measures their impact.

Why are CSR reports important?

These days, a business shouldn’t just use its bottom line to measure its success. It is also expected to consider how its operations impact other people and the planet.

Businesses that remain purely profit-driven may find themselves out of step with the dominant ideology of this era. After all, in 2019, 90% of companies on the S&P 500 index published CSR reports, and this number is set to keep growing.

Why are so many companies invested in this process? Because a CSR report has value both within the organization and beyond it. It communicates to everyone the exact efforts that a company is making to fulfill its social responsibilities.

People that are likely to be interested in a company’s CSR report include investors, employees, and the local community. It’s a document with a large potential audience that can be used to hold businesses accountable.

A well-written CSR report communicates a company’s values. It provides a level of transparency that helps to build trust and improve relationships.

It also makes good business sense to have one, as the general public tends to have more positive associations with companies that show an ethical commitment.

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What makes a good CSR report?

Because many countries do not have a standardized format for CSR reports, it’s often left up to companies themselves to determine their content. A good CSR report should achieve the following:

It addresses the most relevant issues.

A good CSR report should address the issues deemed most pressing by its industry context and its shareholders, including the local community. Research and consultation can uncover these priorities.

It contains concrete goals for the year ahead.

For a CSR report to be convincing, it should make clear commitments to achieving specific results. If a CSR report is too vague, it may be received as insincere and tokenistic.

It outlines how results will be measured.

A company can demonstrate accountability by explaining all aspects of its process, including how progress will be measured. Clarity and transparency are crucial to building trust.

It measures progress against previous goals.

Each CSR report should have a strong relationship with the previous one, showing what has improved in a company’s operations since its publication. By analyzing CSR reports, stakeholders should be able to track a company’s social responsibility journey.

It is published and promoted effectively.

A CSR report should be accessible, both in terms of its style and how easily the general public can obtain it. Therefore, companies should promote their CSR reports and feature them prominently on their websites so they can reach their total potential audience.

CSR report checklist

Make sure your CSR report includes the following:

  1. A business overview: This helps the general public and people beyond the business understand the basics of how your company operates, providing critical context.
  2. A letter from the CEO: Personal reflections from the CEO will demonstrate that your company’s leadership is committed to social responsibility.
  3. A summary of progress: Using last year’s CSR report as a guide, report on progress made and any objectives that have been achieved since then.
  4. Goals: Your report should look to the future and set measurable targets for improvement based on short, mid, and long-term timelines.
  5. Sources and statistics: A credible CSR report will cite and substantiate any claims made. Results should be made tangible through statistical evidence.
  6. Case studies: You can make your report more engaging by including case studies. These stories will add color to the hard facts, and they give you the opportunity to explain any challenges faced in greater detail.
  7. Contact information. People who read your CSR report may wish to follow up on its content. Ensure there are clear channels of communication open to them.
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Top tips for writing your CSR report

  1. Be honest about good and bad news. If your company faced insurmountable obstacles to achieving its targets, explain that rather than excusing or ignoring it.
    Authenticity is key to a credible CSR report. Attempts to spin the truth could fail to convince and damage trusting relationships.
  2. Provide a mixture of qualitative and quantitative evidence. People respond well to the hard facts that prove beyond doubt your company’s progress.
    However, they also want to understand your process. Thus, anecdotal evidence can also be insightful.
  3. Share reflections on industry challenges. The business landscape constantly changes, as does the social context that companies operate within. Therefore, each report should show that you’re up to date with current issues and addressing them proactively.
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