Web is under-used by leadersNovember 2010
Every company on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) is failing to exploit the internet to engage with stakeholders on CSR issues.
That’s the conclusion reached in a new study by the Italian Lundquist Consulting, which accuses sustainability leaders in the corporate field of ‘failing to use the internet to communicate their commitment to a wider debate about CSR’.
Lundquist argues that the main problem is a reluctance by companies to exploit the various tools that an online environment can offer. The report suggests companies are simply making what would previously have been printed material available online, and failing to use opportunities for interactivity and continuing engagement.
The report says: ‘The way information is communicated on corporate websites reveals how CSR communication is rarely accompanied by a desire to enter into a genuine dialogue with stakeholders and lay the basis for ongoing accountability about wider issues of corporate responsibility, ethics and governance.’
For example, nearly a quarter of the 91 companies involved provided no online feedback form or contact details on corporate responsibility matters, 32 per cent provided no information about their stakeholder dialogue, and 68 per cent did not allow the sharing of content in social media forums. Lundquist was also surprised to find that 39 per cent of websites carried no CSR-related press releases or news items.
Lundquist concludes that: ‘Many [companies] are locked in a once-a-year reporting mentality, failing to keep stakeholders updated in an engaging, dynamic and ongoing manner. Above all, corporations aren’t keeping pace with the needs of a sceptical audience for dialogue and engagement on the internet – from setting up effective feedback channels to adopting social media.’
The strongest industry by far was utilities while, surprisingly, the telecommunications was deemed to the worst online communicator.
Geographically the UK, with its 15 DJSI members, was considered the strongest performer, followed by the rest of Europe and, ten percentage points behind, North America.
The best performing company was the Italy-based multinational oil and gas group Eni, which managed a score of 75 out of 100 based on 77 evaluation criteria ranging from the useability and accessibility of online information to the coverage of key CSR issues, online interactivity and readiness to engage in dialogue with stakeholders.
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