When I arrived in Australia 22 years ago from London I thought it was amusing that Aussies were so self-deprecating and were quick to discredit a ‘tall poppy’. The Good news is, this makes Aussies quite endearing to foreigners. The bad news is that companies in Australia have caught the bug and are hiding their Good deeds. This is costing Australian companies dearly.
I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s a growing band of ‘conscious consumers’ who are buying products that are less harmful to the environment, that contribute to others and are made by companies with a Good reputation. Think of social enterprises like Thank You that are taking on the big multinationals.
These consumers want to know what good companies are doing so they can make informed choices. So why is it that Australian companies are loathe to share the Good they are doing? And the ones that ARE sharing, are doing it so poorly? What should they share to authentically resonate with this growing band of conscious consumers? These questions led me on a quest and I began scouring the globe for research. I found and analysed over 25 reports, only including those that were from a credible source, included Australians and had a sample size of over 1,000. Where we found gaps, we commissioned new research. The result is the most comprehensive report of CSR and social good ever compiled and it’s called Talking the Walk® – the definitive guide to communicating CSR & Social Good.
What we found
One of the new pieces of research commissioned aimed to get a snapshot of what consumers thought of corporate Australia. The result was astounding – it appears that many consumers have shifted from skepticism to outright cynicism. 66% of Australians agreed with the statement ‘in general all they (corporates) do is care about profit and they’ll do anything to get it, even damaging society and the environment in the process’. Just as alarming – only 8% disagreed with this statement.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that 26% of Australians (and these tended to be younger Aussies) are on the fence, so they are open to being persuaded that companies do care and can do Good.
One of the reports we analysed was the Havas Worldwide Prosumer study of 2015, which surveyed over 10,000 consumers. This revealed that 84% of Australians believe corporations and governments should work together to make the world a better place. This is echoed by the UN Global Compact-Accenture Consumer Study of 2014, which revealed that 72% of people say business is failing to take care of the planet and society.
This is the environment that your communications are speaking into. Whilst skepticism is rising, trust is plummeting. The Trust Barometer by Edelman 2016 revealed that trust in business (to do the right thing) is at a low 52%. Once again younger Aussies are a little more optimistic and trusting.
Even those employed don’t trust their employer with only 54% saying they trust their employer to do the right thing. This is a real concern as employees (working for a corporate) are a trusted source of CSR information by the public. And it doesn’t appear they’re going to be singing your praises at the next BBQ anytime soon.
How a CEO communicates to its people and customers in vital in turning this around. Australians want leaders to not just solve social problems but talk about the obstacles and share personal stories. Sound like a typical Aussie CEO? Alas not. In the report, we highlight some of the most respected leaders in Australia, and it’s no surprise that they head up companies who are not only active in CSR but share the challenging CSR journey.
Talking the Walk® presents the case for telling your story and telling it well (and it also shows you how to tell it). Here are 3 good reasons to take notice.
- If you don’t blow your own horn, nobody else will! Consumers are quick to express their outrage about things they don’t like, especially online, but they will rarely mention the good things you do. That’s your job: communicate your CSR & Social Good so that consumers can share it.
- When companies try to balance their commercial goals with social and environmental concerns (CSR), they often fear criticism, so they hide behind over-sanitised CSR reports full of jargon. Talk about putting consumers offside! I’ve read more than my fair share of boring, overly complex reports that are full of non-sensical jargon. Research tells us that these types of reports simply perpetuate skepticism and hostility.
- If you don’t use CSR to differentiate, engage, inspire or motivate, you risk losing the business case for continuing it. Effective communication makes the tangible difference between CSR being dismissed as a reluctant expense or a warm and fuzzy gesture that doesn’t contribute to the bottom line, vs being embraced as an investment that provides a competitive advantage.
In Talking the Walk® I have set out a new approach which includes embracing imperfection, ditching the CSR report, and embracing visual communication & storytelling.
In my next newsletter Sharing the Good news – Part 2, I’ll be revealing more stats from Talking the Walk® including the most trusted information source (it’s not what you think), what kinds of CSR activities are perceived as most genuine and the impact that CSR has on purchase behaviour.
Thanks for reading!
Or get the stats now by grabbing your very own personal copy of Talking the Walk® – the definitive guide to communicating CSR & Social Good, now $179 + GST. It contains 140 pages of rich research data, clear analysis across 12 themes and 10 recommendations for communicating along with numerous best practice examples for communication experts. Your purchase includes a download of the report and access to the Resource centre with the 25 research studies, CSR reports, case studies, videos and 2 additional supplements on cause-related social media campaigns and Generational differences. For more info click here or to purchase visit our online shop.
To download your FREE CSR Superhero’s Guide to the Galaxy (Infographic Poster) click here.