In CSR reporting – everything is local!

Intel Israel 2013 CSR ReportLast month, Intel Israel published its annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report. This is a localized version of Intel’s global corporate CSR report with a focus on Intel’s CSR performance in Israel. I was surprised to learn that we are the only multinational technology company that currently publishes a localized CSR report in Israel. So in this post, I want to discuss the dilemmas global organizations face with local/global CSR reporting and the importance of taking a local view not just in activities but also in communications.

Why go local?

Elaine Cohen, a sustainability consultant and expert in CSR reporting, says:

“There are still relatively few multinational companies that report at a local level – just a handful. Those who do tend to publish several separate country reports, often with an overall ‘look and feel’ of the global parent company, but with content that is meaningful for local stakeholders. In order to report locally, companies must engage with stakeholders at the local level. This makes the reporting process far more relevant, building dialogue with local employees, partners and communities, and providing a more robust basis for delivering sustainability strategy at a local level in a way which supports a global CSR strategy.”

For me, if there’s anything I’ve learned in my years of working in CSR at Intel, it’s that one size almost never fits all. Whether it’s in the programs that we run in different countries and regions, or how we explain our corporate responsibility performance, the fit with the audience has to be right. Regional programs have to be relevant to local constituencies and regional reports have to tell the story not just in the local language, but in ways that are relevant to local populations, highlighting the impact of global and regional CSR efforts at a local level.

Yes, it’s hard… but still…

As CSR professionals, we all know how busy everyone is with planning and implementing local programs and local versions of corporate programs. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day challenges and to forget that sharing information about past and ongoing activities and their impact is also extremely important. I know it can be challenging and time consuming to gather information and create the reports, but I do believe it has to be a priority. It’s time to think of reporting as an integral part of every activity.

As example to this local approach, 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Intel in Israel and 40 years of CSR activities contributing to Israel’s economy and growth. Since its establishment, Intel Israel has been investing in human capital and education. Over the past 40 years, approximately half a million Israeli teachers and students have participated in a range of educational programs promoted by Intel. In 2013, Intel Israel joined the Ministry of Education’s national goal and launched “We are the Future”, an umbrella educational program aimed at promoting excellence in scientific-technological education in Israel. Since the future of the high-tech industry is at stake, we decided to mobilize additional organizations and co-lead, with the Trump Foundation, the RASHI Foundation a national initiative promoting excellence in STEM education. This national initiative, which encompasses a network of approximately 100 public, business and third sector organizations, seeks to double the number of students who graduate from high school with a five-point STEM matriculation diploma. The organizations behind the initiative strive to make Israel a leader in developing and assimilating a culture of STEM excellence to meet the needs of the 21st century. In 2013, 46% of Intel Israel employees invested over 37,000 hours in community work, and Intel donated NIS 12 million to NGOs, schools and academic institutes.

Elaine Cohen explains this approach in more detail:

“Local reporting can be considered best practice. But many companies think they have met their commitment to transparency by publishing one global report – a sort of one-size fits all approach. For local stakeholders, however, it doesn’t always fit. Local consumers, employees, community representatives and more want to know how a company is affecting their lives through the products and services they sell and the way they support the local economy. In most cases, global companies act at local level, in local countries, selling to local customers. It seems rather short-sighted that their communications should not reach the local stakeholders that are so important to their business. Local reporting can be an important investment that can pay off at global level. Of all the multinational companies operating in Israel, there are just three that produce local reports and Intel is the only one that has done so regularly over several years. I believe this demonstrates a strong commitment to CSR right through the company and a leading example of what CSR should be. And, I expect, Intel will reap the global benefits of strong local engagement and transparency.”

Tell me what you think: How important is it to report – not just act – at the local level?

Download the report now.

One Response to In CSR reporting – everything is local!

  1. Alan Knight says:

    I fully agree that local reporting has greater impact than global reporting. You need to tell the stories and address the concerns of the audience you need to engage with, in other words your stakeholders. While some concerns, like climate change, are global, most, like water, waste, labour and human rights, are local. This means that the majority of your stakeholders, and therefore your audience, are local. “Only connect,” wrote the English novelist E.M. Forster, about writing. How can you hope to connect if the stories you tell have no relevance for your audience.