Corporate sustainability reports show your values – and consumers notice.

Corporate sustainability reports show your values – and consumers notice.

Sharing your story connects you to stakeholders and helps your bottom line.

This week Walmart released its 2013 Global Responsibility Report. It weighs in at 172 pages and addresses a dozen areas from philanthropy and sustainable sourcing to workforce diversity and job opportunities for women and veterans.

With details about initiatives and partnerships in all corners of the globe, the report provides Walmart with a bully pulpit from which to tell its story.

As the world’s largest employer (2.2 million associates), Walmart’s personnel policies are global issues. (Recall that early on in the health care debate, Walmart came out in support of the Affordable Care Act.)

Among many statistics about women in the Walmart work force, the report highlights that about 54 percent of hourly associates promoted in U.S. stores in 2012 were women.

Its “Women’s Economic Empowerment” section begins, “More than 1 billion people worldwide live in poverty, and approximately 70 percent of those are women. Through 2016, Walmart will work with 150 of its suppliers’ factories and 60,000 women to help break this cycle and teach the critical skills women need to become better advocates for themselves in their home, workplace and community.”

Having committed to offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first year as a civilian, Walmart expects to hire 100,000 veterans in the next five years.

In 2012, Walmart reduced plastic shopping bag waste by 38.1 percent, beating its goal of 33 percent, and it is on track for sustainability goals like reducing food and landfill waste.

Under “Products,” the report states, “Walmart believes no family should have to choose between products that are more sustainable and products they can afford.”

Under “Ethical Sourcing,” the report describes Walmart’s extensive supplier initiatives, including the “Standard for Suppliers Manual,” its more than 3,000 women and minority-owned suppliers, and its partnership with the International Labor Organization and the International Finance Corporation to support the Better Work Program in such countries as Cambodia, Vietnam and Jordan.

Do you need a CSR?

This leads to the big question, Do you need a corporate sustainability report (CSR)?

You may not be in the same global fishbowl as Walmart, but in most cases there is much to be gained by gathering your information and telling it in a compelling way.

CSRs show how your corporation is aligning values and behaviors with the expectations of your stakeholders. Along with customers and investors, stakeholders include employees, suppliers, communities, regulators and special interest groups.

Beyond that, our Eco Pulse™ ’12 research tells us that:

  • 46 percent of Americans say corporate environmental reputation affects their product choices
  • 30 percent mention that CSR reporting influences purchase decisions

In essence, sharing your story not only answers the concerns of stakeholder audiences, but it also has the potential to grow your business.


Posted on

April 24, 2013

About the Author

Brooks Clark

Brooks is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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