High-level promises are not being supported by effective ESG content on corporate websites
Bladonmore reviewed the corporate website of every company in the STOXX All Europe 100 index during August 2020, to analyse how effectively they communicate their social responsibility stories – outside of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports.
The research reveals that most large-cap companies are making bold, high-level statements on ESG issues – but many are not backing that up with convincing content across their websites.
The majority recognise the importance of being seen as a socially responsible business and actively push progressive statements in their headline messaging.
reference ESG or social responsibility goals in their purpose
clearly highlight their ESG or social responsibility targets and objectives
refer to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)
When it comes to content beyond their CSR reports, companies are failing to support their story – leaving much of the evidence buried in PDFs on their website.
It highlights a growing credibility gap between what companies are doing around ESG and what they are perceived to be doing. This isn’t necessarily because of a lack of action on their part, but rather an absence of good storytelling.
Businesses have to rethink and refocus on how they are communicating ESG on their websites, or risk leaving stakeholders unconvinced. They need to bring social responsibility stories to life across their wider digital communications rather than leaving them buried on a PDF hidden somewhere online.
Drilling down into the organisations, the lack of ESG perspective promoted on corporate websites from employees below senior management is particularly worrying. Only:
discuss ESG issues in interviews with the CEO
promote employee voices on ESG (below senior management)
use their own film footage to showcase ESG in action
share human stories to evidence the impact of their ESG agenda (film)
Of course, not all are missing the mark. Several businesses are communicating their ESG and social responsibility stories well through clear, structured messages and engaging creative content.
The top five companies that stood out were:
This does not mean they are necessarily getting everything right in terms of ESG and social responsibility. It is simply that they are communicating around the subject well across their websites.
For those looking to improve their ESG narrative, the recommendations from this research can be summarised as follows:
- Develop a strong purpose statement focused on ESG or social responsibility issues.
- Clearly talk about your goals and some of the actions that you will take to achieve them.
- Refer to how they tie into wider initiatives such as the UN SDGs, the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, etc.
- Communicate this message using authentic voices – from the CEO, a wide range of employees, and external stakeholders. Link these messages to your purpose statement.
- Demonstrate the impact that your programme has, not just what you have put into it.
- Use high-quality film content to bring your stories to life – they do more in a few minutes than pages and pages of written content.