CSR Messages: Raising the Bar

Jan 12, 2011 11:00 AM ET

Paul Klein's Blog

Do your CSR messages differentiate you from your competitors? Do you tell your CSR story in a way that captures the attention and imagination of your customers and your employees? I thought it would be interesting to look at some real examples – in this case from the oil and gas industry. See what you think: 

“Making the most of energy resources is about more than oil and gas production — it is about forming a global partnership for development, and creating and delivering sustainable, long-term benefits to local communities. We become an active participant in every community where we operate, and we are committed to making a positive and lasting contribution built on mutual trust and respect.” Exxon Mobil Corporation

“We supply energy, which helps support economic growth and development. At our operations we try to address social concerns and work to benefit local communities, to protect our reputation and support our business.” Shell

“At BP we define sustainability as the capacity to endure as a group, by: Renewing assets, Creating and delivering better products and services that meet the evolving needs of society, Attracting successive generations of employees, Contributing to a sustainable environment, Retaining the trust and support of our customers, shareholders and the communities in which we operate.” BP

A few observations. Beyond the platitudes common to all three messages, I suspect one could attribute these statements to any oil and gas company.  Shell’s use of the word “try” with respect to the way its operations address social concerns and local communities seemed odd at first but now feels honest in way that the others don’t. And the absence of safety from BP is bizarre.

Are these messages social purpose rallying cries? Would these statements make the employees of these companies feel proud and loyal? Would you go out of your way to get gas from one of these companies?

Your corporation’s social purpose program needs to be a game-changer compared to your competition and in the minds of your stakeholders.  It also needs to be expressed in a clear, simple and compelling manner.


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