Communication support for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): companies and organizations are increasingly being closely and critically monitored on how they deal with climate and environment, human rights and social inequality. This attracts the attention of a wide range of stakeholders, including NGOs, investors, consumers, journalists, regulators and politicians. It does not stop at attention alone. The European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) are examples of this, these directives require large companies to report annually on their impact on people and the environment starting in fiscal year 2024 and forces such negative impacts in these areas to be minimized and prevented.

The obligations from the EU CSRD directive will eventually apply to more than just the largest listed companies. Starting in fiscal year 2024, companies that were already reporting on a limited basis on their sustainability efforts under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) will have to comply with the CSRD rules. A year later, in fiscal year 2025, it will become mandatory for large companies not previously covered by the NFRD. From 2026, this requirement will extend to listed small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Although unlisted SMEs are not directly covered by the CSRD, they will still feel the impact indirectly because, as part of the supply chain, they will have to provide certain information to the multinational companies that do have to comply with this reporting requirement.

However, research by Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad and a study by ABN AMRO Bank show that a significant number of Dutch companies are not yet ready for the required reporting. This underlines the need for both large and smaller companies to actively engage in reporting and CSR initiatives. Not only to comply with regulations, but also to think about how to take advantage of the opportunities these new requirements present.

More than just a compliance exercise

In fact, CSR reporting goes beyond a mere compliance exercise. It also provides an organization with an opportunity to demonstrate sustainable, political and societal leadership. Effective communication about these efforts can not only help meet legal requirements, but also create new opportunities. Organizations that excel in their sustainability policies, for example, can thereby not only enhance their image but also gain political advantages. On the other hand, lagging in adequate or correct reporting can have adverse effects. After all, such reports will be read attentively and critically by journalists, politicians and activist NGOs. All in all with potentially a direct impact on an organization’s bottom-line.

Public Matters stands out for its unique approach to these challenges and opportunities. We look beyond legal and accounting compliance and focus on the political-social and reputational aspects of reporting. Our expertise in advocacy and strategic communications enables us to support organizations in effectively communicating their policies to specific stakeholders such as politicians, media, and civil society organizations. We do this by creating tailored messages that not only align with the organization’s values and actions, but also with current social and political expectations. In this role, we act as a critical and sincere sparring partner. Our approach thereby seeks to avoid the perception of superficial efforts, often referred to as “greenwashing” or “purpose washing.

CSR services offered by Public Matters include:

  • Identifying reputational threats and societal opportunities through a “CSRD Scan”: although the financial statements and annual report have been approved after the audit and comply with legal requirements, this says nothing about the potential societal opportunities and threats revealed by the reporting. Public Matters reads your annual report with a ‘societal lens’. We identify areas where society will react critically, but also where opportunities lie. Could improving the competitive position have a positive impact on the organization’s earning capacity?
  • Assist in publishing and communicating annual (sustainability) reports: Public Matters ensures that the reports are in line with the social and political trend and reach the right stakeholders in the right form, such as MPs, civil servants and other stakeholders.
  • Development and implementation of CSR communication strategies: Public Matters helps organizations develop, test and roll out CSR communication strategies closely linked to specific needs and objectives. This includes internal employee awareness campaigns as well as external campaigns aimed at politics, media and society.
  • Turning reporting into lobbying campaigns: excelling in certain areas can be used as a basis for political or media benefits. If the high standard becomes the norm, it provides competitive advantages.
  • Conduct stakeholder analysis and engagement: support in identifying and analyzing key stakeholders. We also develop plans to actively engage these stakeholders and build lasting relationships with them.
  • Reputation baseline measurement among (political) stakeholders: Public Matters performs analyses to map the position of organizations within the political and social landscape. This information can be essential to understand how the organization is perceived and how to respond.
  • Ad hoc consulting and crisis communications: we provide flexible support depending on needs. This includes crisis communication at times when every second counts.

Please feel free to contact one of our consultants to discuss the possibilities for your organization. We will be happy to provide you with advice to ensure your organization’s voice is heard.

"Although the financial statements and annual report have been approved after the audit and comply with legal requirements, this says nothing about the potential societal opportunities and threats revealed by the reporting. Public Matters reads your reporting with a 'societal lens'."

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