Corporate social responsibility reporting

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Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

The discourse of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has gained considerable momentum in recent years with all signs indicating that this movement will continue with even greater force throughout the remainder of 2009 and into 2010. Business leaders that have had CSR programs up and running for several years will tell you that when their programs started there was very little measuring and reporting on established objectives, but with sophisticated consumers and stakeholders demanding greater accountability gone are the days of just saying 'it's working.'

A general framework for CSR reporting has been established by The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a large multi-stakeholder network of thousands of experts, in dozens of countries worldwide. Intended to inform shareholders, stakeholders and the general public of all efforts to adhere to laws and ethical standards as well as any improvements to the sustainability of the company and the environment, CSR reports are a means of increasing the transparency into an organizations operations, which some say will spur other companies to further action. As the GRI's website ( describes, 'The Global Reporting Initiative's vision is that disclosure on economic, environmental, and social performance is as commonplace and comparable as financial reporting, and important to organizational success.' On an organizational level CSR reports can be useful for companies to benchmark organizational performance, demonstrate organizational commitment to sustainable development and to compare organizational performance over time.

Celeste LeCompte investigates some of the ideas surrounding CSR reporting in a recent article on BusinessWeek.comentitled 'How to Put Sustainability on the Books.' The issue at the heart of LeCompte's piece is not so much what types of data organizations are including in their CSR reports but rather how they are collecting and then extracting this data. As DeCompte explains, 'CSR data are notoriously complex. Putting together a report can mean pulling data from environmental health and safety departments, community and education programs, philanthropic giving records, supply chain partners, and operations records. Historically, companies have pulled that data into Excel spreadsheets to create new datasets for CSR reports. But as stakeholders—and shareholders—show more interest in sustainability concerns, companies are beginning to eye more sophisticated software to help them manage and report that data.' Because collecting, verifying, and publishing data from multiple spreadsheets and various other sources is an obvious limitation on the accuracy and efficiency of a CSR report, a more sophisticated, web-based software solution such as what Intelex offers is something that many organizations have now implemented to streamline operations and make data reporting more accurate and manageable, a trend that will likely continue to increase as we move towards a more accountable, socially and environmentally conscious business world.

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