It has been hard to miss the recent, high-profile instances of companies exaggerating their green credentials to boost their public image – so called ‘greenwashing’. Of the most recent examples, statements around plastic-free packaging from some heavy polluters in the FMCG space are perhaps the most well known. But many will also have experienced the glossy reports with pictures of smiling children surrounded by nature that told the world how well the company was doing on sustainability, when the reality is proven different. Overstatement has become risky business for companies to conduct.
In a world with social media and other influences, it is sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction, and telling positive but unsubstantiated stories about a company’s ESG performance is an obvious temptation. Not only do such stories paint a healthy and principled outlook for the business, but they also fit our societal need for heroes to lead us to a brighter, more sustainable future. The unchecked egos of some CEOs can undoubtedly play a part in pushing the green story beyond the factual truth, but this practice comes at a cost. The benefits of a positive but false spin on green and other ESG performance can severely undermine longer-term reputation and brand equity – both of the business and its leaders. This is a major threat to company reputation and stakeholder trust, and should find its way onto every risk register. It should also be subject to the scrutiny of those managing risk and reputation in their organisations, as well as those charged with governance.
Klik hier om de blog, geschreven door Muriël Hesselberg en Rob de Leeuw (Deloitte) verder te lezen.
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