In their article “In Search of Stakeholder Salience: Exploring Corporate Sustainability Reports”, Weber and Marley surveyed 400 CEOs and senior executives, of which 9 of 10 stated they are “doing more than they did five years ago to incorporate environmental issues into their core business strategies.” The authors frame the reporting as presenting an opportunity to enhance business image and to communicate their successes, but I would wager to bet that the pressure for CSR reporting is what in large part got these leaders to develop CSR strategies in the first place. Sure, the business case for CSR has been made in recent years, but in the earlier days when skepticism about it’s value was widespread, I would think that it was the transparency that resulted from this new social disclosure that was the catalyst to get businesses leaders to think twice about their impact based on stakeholder perception, not that they had a care, strategy and story to tell in the first place. Was it really perceived as opportunity or where the initial social and environmental strategies implemented begrudgingly because of the expectation to report on them?
It’s hard to know what came first, the chicken or the egg, the strategy or the report, but this article gives me knew perspective about the roots in business responsibility. Could increased normalization and even standardization of CSR reporting increase pressure to do more?