Seven years after the release of the award winning documentary featuring Al Gore’s slide show on global warming, the Inconvenient Truth revealed today by Grayling’s PULSE survey is that only 30 per cent of firms undertake sustainability and CSR programmes out of a “genuine sense of responsibility”. The list of other motivations includes employee morale, reputation with stakeholders and peer group pressure.
Another irony of this startling conclusion is that the latest climate change conference, COP 18 hosted by the Gulf State of Qatar, repeated calls for temperature decreases of between 2 – 4 degrees Celsius. This apparently will prevent certain parts of the planet returning to the oceans, with the associated human and economic catastrophe, something which you would expect both governments and corporates would support willingly.
The irony here is that Facebook claims to have reduced human connectivity from the much debated “6 degrees of separation” to nearer 4. The link being the potent impact social media has had on our ability to communicate and connect – so what’s stopping government and corporates from integrating their CSR and sustainability messages in a more joined up way by employing digital channels?
The survey offers a number of answers but in truth they fall in to two buckets; fear and cost.
Times are tough so CSR and sustainability are seen as a luxury rather than a business imperative. The survey reported that only 15.6 per cent of firms are looking to beef up their investment in this sector whereas a whopping 45.3 per cent are happy with the status quo. Worse still 15 per cent are actually looking to slash investment in these programmes, which takes us onto the fear factor.
On the surface you could assume that this is to do purely with the bottom line, but this is where the survey reveals yet another inconvenient truth. Only 12 per cent of firms use social media to communicate CSR and sustainable messages, underlining a lack of confidence or ability in developing joined up communications programmes where digital media fulfills a strategic role.
As Al Gore said in the movie, ""I've been trying to tell this story for a long time and I feel as if I've failed to get the message across”. Perhaps if more firms spoke to Grayling about the importance of sustainability and digital communications, they too would be as award winning as the film.