Companies Build Public Trust Through Sustainability Reporting, New Research
National polling from Hill+Knowlton Strategies reveals more than 4 in 5
Americans believe corporate efforts to be sustainable increase public trust,
even when results fall short of goals
WASHINGTON -- April 9, 2013
Corporations have learned in recent years that their success depends heavily
on public confidence. That confidence is driven not just by business
performance, but also by an evolving set of factors that impact the public’s
view of a business as a trustworthy entity.
A recent survey^1 conducted by Hill+Knowlton Strategies revealed that one of
the more significant drivers of public confidence in a company is its
commitment to sustainability, and its efforts to communicate about and deliver
on that commitment. The global communications advisory firm defines the goal
of corporate sustainability to be managing the environmental, economic and
social effects of a corporation’s operations so it is profitable over the
long-term while acting in a responsible manner to society.
“The takeaway is that corporations that report citizenship activities can gain
a higher level of public trust and greater license to operate. Conversely,
companies that report very little face a growing risk that incomplete
disclosure is seen as an effort to deliberatively hide poor corporate
governance and subpar operations,” said Robert Ludke, H+K Strategies senior
vice president and head of the firm’s Governance+Sustainability practice.
The survey results showed a clear link between corporate communications around
sustainability efforts and corporate performance and reputation. Among the key
*91 percent of respondents said they believe that it was important for
corporations to behave sustainably in 2013 and beyond, and that such
behavior was critical to companies’ long-term success;
*81 percent believe companies should report on theirsustainability efforts
on an ongoing basis rather than through a static report;
*82 percent believe that acompany can regain public trust through an
honest andtransparent reporting of its efforts to be more sustainable,
even if thatreporting highlights where it falls short of its goals; and
*84 percent believe greater visibility into corporate sustainability
efforts will increase trust in a company.
“The expectation of sustainability springs from greater awareness and
understanding of issues like climate change, water scarcity and income
disparity — all places where the public feels empowered to play a direct role
in affecting change,” said Ludke.
The survey results were released today during a panel sponsored by
Hill+Knowlton Strategies and British American Business titled: Sustainability,
Transparency and Business Performance. Moderated by Ludke, this panel explored
how greater and more strategic reporting on corporate sustainability
performance makes good business sense. Paul Gennaro of AECOM, Michael Garland
of the Office of New York City Comptroller, and Tom Murray of Environmental
Defense Fund participated in this discussion. More information on the survey
findings can be found at www.hkstrategies.com/sustainability.
^1 This document highlights key findings from online omnibus surveys among
1,000 respondents in the U.S. The questions were fielded between March 18 and
March 27.The margin of error for the surveys would be +/- 3.1% at the 95%
confidence interval.Some sub-group samples were weighted to match current
census data of the U.S. general public.
About Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc. is a leading international communications
consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global clients.
The firm is headquartered in New York, with 90 offices in 52 countries, as
well as an extensive associate network. The agency is part of WPP, one of the
world’s largest communications services groups. For more information, please
Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc.
Rebecca Ballard, 202-354-8271
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