Please note that the comments relate to generalised content on corporate websites. They do not relate to or refer to recent topical ESG events.
The businesses that rose to the top of our review produce comprehensive ESG content that brings their story to life. Their key messages are well structured around targets or aligned to global, external initiatives, underpinned by a clear purpose that connects ESG to the wider business objectives.
A lot of the companies that fell outside of the top 20 have significant sustainability, corporate responsibility or governance sections, but their content lacks focus. Many adopt a scattergun approach to their messaging, flooding their websites with text-heavy content that tries to cover too many bases. The result is that key messages are often diluted and lack the necessary supporting evidence to detail the picture.
Those that score well make a determined effort to add depth to their narrative, supporting key messages with strong creative content and a breadth of human stories to show the impact of their work. They also promote a range of voices on ESG, from the senior leadership to employees lower down the chain of command.
Here we detail the top 20 companies according to our analysis (see Methodology). Several of these companies continue to face media and investor challenges on various social responsibility issues – from supply chains to political challenges on taxation and many more. As previously noted, our analysis does not mean that they are always performing well on these issues – it is a reflection of how they communicate around them and bring this story to life on their corporate websites.
Social responsibility is positioned as an integral part of the company purpose and connects to its 2020+ strategy. Its operations are clearly aligned to the UN SDGs with case studies used to provide detailed evidence of how the business is supporting each goal. Film brings to life the scale of its projects, while a range human voices, including senior leadership, add authenticity to the story.
Purpose closely aligns social responsibility with its wider operations. The business actively supports the UN SDGs and highlights the specific areas where it places particular strategic focus. All commitments are evidenced by strong cases studies – many film-led. Human stories and employee voices help build emotive connections with the audience and emphasise the impact of the company’s social responsibility agenda.
The company’s purpose is firmly grounded in ESG issues. It outlines three ‘big goals’ that form the messaging pillars of its Sustainable Living Plan, providing a good structure for its content. These are also clearly linked to the UN SDGs. A colour-coded visual tagging system helps connect other pieces of content from across the site back to these areas. Social responsibility is unmistakably at the heart of the business.
Strong creative content helps builds a detailed picture around its ESG efforts, even if the structure is somewhat less clear. Its Long-Term Strategic Plan to 2050 highlights key targets and performance metrics, while the company mission has been redefined in line with the UN SDGs. Film content is very prevalent – mixing bitesize clips with longer feature films.
Clear targets provide good structure to the messaging. Three main ambitions act as content buckets that group together the company’s 36 sustainability commitments. A colour-coded system links content across the site back to its three ambitions. This is particularly useful in aligning its storytelling tab with its ‘Our impact’ section.
Clearly presented targets closely align with the UN SDGs. Case studies provide evidence for each target. Creative and engaging film draws the audience into the story.
A good range of different voices shared through film. Effective human storytelling, evidencing the impact of global initiatives on individuals and communities.
Leadership voice is leveraged to highlight the connection between social responsibility, sustainability and business strategy. Thorough content and selective use of film brings to life their commitment to making an impact.
Broad selection of creative content to highlight its commitments and evidence their impact. A range of different voices across varying levels of seniority are used to deliver the message.
Creates impactful human stories through film that promote a broad range of employee perspectives. The structure could benefit from greater clarity around its targets.
Neatly structured with a clear alignment between purpose and strategy. Commitment areas are clearly evidenced with good film content used to add clarity and depth to the message.
12. Deutsche Post
Social responsibility themes are well integrated into the company purpose and strategy. Well aligned to the UN SDGs with good detail to evidence each area, but content could benefit from a more human focus.
13. Novo Nordisk
Simple but clear structure that incorporates a steady use of visual content and human storytelling to build a holistic picture of its ESG agenda.
14. Schneider Electric
Good use of film for case studies that highlight the impact of its social responsibility initiatives. Prominent leadership voice on ESG builds belief in the messaging. Targets could be more evident.
15. Royal Dutch Shell
Detailed content, but sometimes lacking the creativity to cut through. But, good effort to integrate human storytelling, a range of perspectives and its leadership voice into content.
Very strong use of film to link social responsibility with the company purpose. Good use of human perspective to evidence initiatives in action.
Clear structure around its three core priorities. Lots of facts and figures used to highlight progress to date. Better human storytelling would help bring this to life.
18. AB Volvo
Details how and where its key initiatives align to the specific UN SDGs. Interesting range of perspectives, including the CEO voice, but content sometimes fails to build a complete story.
Showcases a compelling and beautifully crafted series of films that tell human stories to highlight the business’ relationship with sustainable development.
20. Société Générale Group
Leadership voice is well used across filmed messages and interviews to drive the ESG agenda and add weight behind the business’ ESG commitments.