MIAMI, FL / ACCESSWIRE / August 16, 2022 / Corporate responsibility is one of those topics that's increasingly vital to communicate but often muddled in its presentation to stakeholders. The problem can be solved by more structured thinking, according to Jozef (Jos) Opdeweegh, international CEO and author of Fair Value; reflections on good business.
Jozef Opdeweegh has started businesses and joint ventures and has been a Board member of companies in Canada, the USA, Brazil, APAC (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand), and a significant number of European countries. Opdeweegh is fluent in four languages and says that the issues are much the same across the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
With thirty years of senior experience, Opdeweegh has seen exponential growth in corporate reporting, particularly for sustainability and corporate responsibility.
"In every major economy it's now a requirement for businesses to describe the steps they are taking to trade responsibly -and rightly so! The problem, in such a vast field of activity, is how to structure and describe the accountability in a way that's easy to follow," Opdeweegh asserted.
Using the metaphor of a ladder, Opdeweegh explains how in four simple steps businesses can ensure their strategies are both comprehensive and communicable. He adds that each step can then be broken down into stakeholder groups, creating a matrix of targets and actions that addresses each audience in a structured and comprehensive way.
"By approaching corporate responsibility from four different perspectives, we can show an all-round view, which makes sense to shareholders, customers, regulators and colleagues," Opdeweegh claims.
- Step one: Legal and regulatory requirements
"It might sound obvious, but the foundation of any responsible business is adherence to the law,' says Opdeweegh. His experience in industries as varied as financial services and publishing confirms how vital it is for organizations to demonstrate their compliance. Requirements vary by location and can often involve industry-specific legislation," says Opdeweegh. As such, it's important that businesses clearly set out those that are most relevant to them.
2. Step two: Stakeholder promises
One step from any legal requirements is the commitments (both explicit and implicit) that we make to our shareholders and customers. Opdeweegh says this includes the promises implied in brands and advertising. "If we claim to care about our communities then we'd best be able to demonstrate that we're working to make a difference; the same for commitments to people, the planet, diversity…"Delivering on our promises - or being honest when we fail - is the basis of trust in what we say," says Opdeweegh.
3. Step three: Benefit assessments
Beyond legal requirements and keeping our word, lies the voluntary actions that businesses can choose to take or work towards. Opdeweegh notes the range of options is often so vast that it's helpful to think in terms of costs, benefits, and time. Actions that cost little to implement and deliver a quick payback are not generally no-brainers - installing LED lighting or improving insulation are typical examples. That doesn't mean slower burn initiatives should be rejected; what's important is that stakeholders are clear on the timescales and nature of payback.
4. Step four: Philanthropy
While writing Fair Value, Opdeweegh makes a passionate case for giving to others and of ourselves. Doing good for its own sake, says Opdeweegh, brings untold if often unforeseen benefits. From grounding our sense of purpose to motivating colleagues and underpinning brand values, Opdeweegh concludes that: "we shouldn't forget that intangible assets are often the most substantial item on the balance sheet - and that one of the best ways to enhance them is to give selflessly to others."
Opdeweegh asserts that by following these four simple steps, many businesses would improve the structure and presentation of their corporate responsibility reporting. "Of course, all strategies of this sort should be founded on clear and commonly held values that determine the overall direction of travel. But as a means to clarity and engagement, to explaining the choices and giving assurance to stakeholders, keeping it simple and structured is the best way forward."
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SOURCE: Cambridge Global