A little over a week ago, in the midst of putting the finishing touches on Intel’s latest Corporate Responsibility Report (which will be available on our web site tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20th), I had the opportunity to participate in an event at the Empire Club of Canada which highlighted the changing landscape of CSR communications.There is a lot of discussion these days among CSR practitioners about whether we can foresee “the death of the CSR report.” Should we stop producing these long, detailed reports that allegedly no one (or only a relatively small audience reads)? Should we instead find ways to regularly stream information on our CSR activities throughout the year through blogs, Twitter, and other social media channels? Or can the two peacefully coexist and complement each other? (for a good back and forth on this – check out a recent thread on Justmeans.com) What are your thoughts on this? At the Empire Club event I attended, I was on a panel led by Boyd Neil from Hill and Knowlton, Peter Aceto from ING Direct Canada, and Tom Watson from Canada Business Magazine. I talked about how and why a large company like Intel is engaging in social media and more specifically, how social media trends are likely to impact the future of CSR reporting and communications. I stressed that there will continue to be a role for annual CSR reports using recognized external reporting standards like the Global Reporting Initiative. Much like annual financial statements, these reports (when done well) allow stakeholders to understand the key challenges and strategies of an organization – and the standardization allows for comparison from year to year as well as between companies. But social media is changing the way we think about reporting and CSR communications – it has the potential to extend our message to new audiences, complement our annual report with regular updates, and provide one more channel for stakeholders to communicate directly with us about where they think we are getting it right, and where we still need to improve. By proactively engaging in social media – we can gather more insight into the conversations that are happing in the blogosphere about our company – understand new concerns and trends, to help us better respond to new challenges as they arise. But building a culture that embraces social media takes time and investment – a good summary of the steps that Intel has taken over the last few years to provide support and encouragement for Intel employees to actively engage in social media can be found here. Also – some pretty good summaries of the event in blog post on onedegree.ca, ‘Trust Me, Social Media is Here to Stay!’ and on ITBusiness Canada.
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