The hour long in-depth debate, hosted by Ethical Corporation, focused on ways companies can build an authentic dialogue with customers and consumers. The online webinar, featuring expert insight from Nestlé, Interface and Carillion,took place on Tuesday 1st April 2014 and was attended by over 350 CSR practitioners.
During the webinar attendees were asked a series of questions to help set the scene. One of the key polls asked attendees what is the number one benefit of an open, sustainability communications strategy. 55 per cent of the attendees stated that increased customer/consumer trust was the number one benefit, 19 per cent voted brand loyalty, 12 per cent voted competitive advantage and 7 per cent of the webinar attendees believed increased employee engagement is the number one benefit. Interestingly only 2 per cent of our attendees felt that increased revenue was the number one benefit.
The insight was somewhat surprising to our webinar panel. Janet Voute, Global Head of Public Affairs at Nestle stated “I am surprised by the poll results and the low ranking of increased employee engagement because all of our investigations reveal our work on creating shared value leads to very clear increased employee loyalty and an increased ability to recruit. I would argue this should be much higher.”
Touching upon the poll results, David Picton, Chief Sustainability Officer at Carillion added “two results that jumped out to me that were interesting and important to pick up on is Janet’s point about engagement. It is really clear part of being an employee of choice and giving real sense of satisfaction, being proud of what that company does feeling you belong to it and its future, a lot of that employee engagement is about people sensing and feeling it is the right thing that is being done, links to trust and loyalty as well.”
David went on to say, “The one that surprised me, maybe the way it was phrased is increased revenue – I think a good balanced strategy has to deliver profit because one of the main areas of sustainability is to eliminate waste. Sustainability for us is very clearly a profitability link to the bottom line because we can reduce costs and reduce waste through this and do the right thing at the same time.”
Ramon Arratia, European Director of Sustainability at Interface concluded comments around this poll by stating “we have been able to lock in some markets because we have some superior products from an environmental point of view that others couldn’t develop. Increased revenue, our eco-hero products (with lowest environmental impact) is delivering a 10 per cent more margin than normal products.”
The poll and discussion clearly highlights that building an open and transparent communication strategy with customers offers many benefits from increased employee engagement and consumer trust to competitive advantage and increased revenues.
The webinar discussion and polling is accessible here
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