CSR report

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Brands and Corporate Social Responsibility - (Other Industries Excluding Financial Services)

LEGO uses videos to highlight the ways the company practices CSR, and so do Google, Microsoft, and Ben & Jerry. In Disney's 2017 CSR update, they provide the majority of information through infographics. BMW strives to set high standards for their employees in order to foster environmental change, corporate giving, and to maintain a diverse workforce. In their report, they state that their philanthropy efforts have surpassed $36 million.

METHODOLOGY

We were able to identify two precompiled lists of brands with the best CSR initiatives based on their level of success and popularity. These brands are also in the news a lot. From the precompiled lists, we selected the seven brands that come up the most when searching for the term CSR. We defined brands as companies with products and services to offer. Most of these companies have CSR annual reports with infographics and other visual aids highlighting current and future initiatives. In terms of metrics, all seven companies also have clear goals and metrics they use, which we listed below.

LEGO

LEGO is one of the most successful companies regarding CSR. LEGO is currently undertaking an ambitious array of sustainable goals for the company. They are also developing key strategic partnerships with non-profits such as the World Wildlife Fund. Their partnership with the World Wildlife Fund is focused on Lego’s Sustainable Materials Center, which is projected to recruit over 100 employees in an effort to put into place sustainable alternatives to existing materials by 2030. LEGO is also focused on launching a global initiative called Build the Change, "which was inspired in part by letters the company receives from children excited to share their ideas, many of which involve environmental and animal welfare".

When it comes to the metrics LEGO is using, they note they have achieved their ambition to balance 100% of their energy use with energy from renewable sources. They also made a long-term commitment to investing $150 million to "identify and implement even more sustainable raw materials and packaging solutions by 2030".

LEGO is using videos to highlight the ways the company practices CSR.
In one such video, they mention 100% of the energy used for LEGO bricks is sourced from renewable sources.
In another video, LEGO is highlighting one of their CSR initiatives called Build the Change, which is an event where LEGO inspires kids to use their imagination in a fun, but responsible context. They also aim to foster the children's creativity and promote social interaction.

MICROSOFT

Microsoft has many categories when it comes to their CSR initiatives. Some of the most prominent are:
1. Microsoft Supporting Local Communities
2. Microsoft Educating and Empowering Workers
3. Labor and Human Rights at Microsoft
4. Employee Health and Safety at Microsoft
5. Microsoft and Gender Equality and Minorities
6. Energy Consumption by Microsoft
7. Carbon Emissions by Microsoft

Annually, Microsoft publishes a Corporate Social Responsibility report where they list current and future initiatives. They also provide metrics details. An example of metrics from the report: "We’re partnering with telecommunications companies through our Rural Airband Initiative to bring broadband connectivity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022."

Microsoft chooses to highlight how their employees are contributing to their CSR initiatives by creating videos. They also publish infographics which inform the public about their biggest achievements. For 2017, Microsoft says they funded 18,000 nonprofits, and raise $125 million. 71% of employees of Microsoft donated their time and money, and a total of 570,000 hours were donated.

DISNEY

At Disney, corporate social responsibility refers to the companies' array of efforts to conduct Disney business and create Disney products in an ethical manner. The company also aims to "provide comfort, happiness, and inspiration to families around the world". CSR initiatives are divided into the environment and philanthropy. Disney publishes an annual report on their CSR initiatives.

In Disney's 2017 CSR update, they provide the majority of information through infographics. They divide their report into Targets/ Metrics, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Living, Workplace Practices, and Strategic Philanthropy & Community Engagement. For example, their performance targets which can be seen as metrics are segmented into environment, volunteer hours, and healthy living. They state that when it comes to emissions, they aim to reduce net emissions by 50% from 2012 total levels by 2020. They also state that in 2017 they reduced their net emissions by 41% from 2012 levels.

PANERA BREAD

Panera Bread publishes their Responsibility Report every two years, and the last one was published in 2016. Some key accomplishments since the last report are:
"1. Achieving 100% clean food
2. Donating more than $100 million each year to help fight food insecurity through Panera’s Day-End Dough-Nation™ program.
3. Operating Panera Cares nonprofit community cafes aimed at addressing food insecurity."

They choose to showcase their goals, metrics, and accomplishments through infographics. In a 91-page report, they give a deep dive of all three.

BEN & JERRY

Ben & Jerry is a certified B Corporation, which is known as the highest standard for SCR: "B Corps are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems".

When it comes to metrics, Ben & Jerrys' main goal is to keep their products free of GMO. Ben & Jerry’s mission statement when it comes to CSR is broken down into three segments: product, economic, and social. The social goal is aimed towards the company operating in innovative ways to increase equity and quality of life for the whole world. One example of Ben & Jerrys promoting their social goal is the Caring Dairy program, which "incentivizes milk suppliers to make more environmentally sustainable and animal-friendly choices by ranking them in a tiered system and paying higher-ranking suppliers more".

When it comes to visual formats, Ben & Jerry is mostly focused on producing videos, such as a number of different ones for the Climate Justice that promote clean energy.

BMW

Targeted, sustainable commitment is the main part of the BMW Group’s CSR identity. BMW is actively committed to improving sustainability on a global level by leveraging their core expertise to achieve the biggest long-term impact. BMW contributes financial resources, and also share their know-how. In their CSR report, they state they work closely with different partners to create possible solutions.

When it comes to metrics, BMW strives to set high standards for their employees in order to foster environmental change, corporate giving, and to maintain a diverse workforce. In their report, they state that their philanthropy efforts have surpassed $36 million. Out of that number, 47% went to education, 35% to the community, and 18% to the arts.

BMW chooses to report their CSR efforts through videos in which they point out their social responsibility efforts, such as adapting to the working conditions for an aging workforce, and the use of renewable energy. They also use infographics to highlight BMW's CSR strategies, key metrics, and programs and initiatives.

GOOGLE

Google publishes an environmental report that states the details of Google's CSR programs and initiatives. In this report, they provide data on Google's energy and water consumption, as well as their efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling.

Google's 2017 Environmental report shows different metrics they use, such as:
1. Capturing value from waste in upstate New York.
2. Using oceans of data and tracking illegal fishing over 1.4 billion square miles.
3. Using 100% renewable energy and how Google buys renewable energy.

Apart from publishing a report, Google also uses videos as the primary visual format for showcasing their CSR efforts, such as Google's Windmill and renewable energy partnerships.

CONCLUSION

Lego, Microsoft, Google, Walt Disney, BMW, Panera Bread, and Ben & Jerrys are the most successful with corporate social responsibility.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Brands and Corporate Social Responsibility - Financial Services Brands

CSR Hub tracks and rates companies across many industries based on their corporate social responsibility. Based on their ratings, we have identified Nationwide Financial, TIAA, New York Life, Massachusetts Mutual, and USAA as the top five North American financial companies for corporate social responsibility. However, while these companies do broadcast their commitment to their communities, their employees, the environment, etc., they tend to do so in very traditional ways, primarily communicating through text broken up by stock photos. While a few have CSR-related videos on their YouTube channels, most of these seem not to have been updated in several years.
Below you will find a deep dive of our findings.

RATING THE COMPANIES

Since the question gauges a company's "success" in terms of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR, henceforth), our first step was to search for a database of CSR ratings. CSR Hub, which "provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 17,913+ companies from 135 industries in 133 countries," based on data pulled from over 500 different sources, proved ideal, especially since their search engine allowed us to narrow the field to finance companies. While this did require that we search multiple sub-categories (e.g., banking, brokerage & capital markets, etc.), it nevertheless enabled us to quickly isolate a list of financial companies with the highest CSR ratings. From there, we researched each of the top five to learn more about how they achieved their CSR scores. We limited ourselves to North American financial institutions; for example, though it has a very high CSR rating and is headquartered in Washington, DC, we did not include the World Bank because most of its operations are involved in aiding developing countries.

A NOTE ON VISUAL FORMATS

In the course of our research, we searched for specifically visual formats by which the below companies communicated their CSR commitments. To our surprise, we did not find any video examples; while each of the below companies had their own YouTube channels (e.g., Nationwide's channel), they used them primarily to advertise their financial programs and products. Instead, we found that most of these companies used their websites as the primary vehicle to describe their CSR commitments, mostly through text sprinkled with what appear to be stock images. In addition, a few companies also produce a yearly CSR report in the form of a full-color PDF (again, using what appear to be stock photos). Where we did find relevant videos, they were either several years old or were not by the company themselves, e.g., news stories highlighting one or more activity.
What this seems to come down to is that the financial industry is, as Forbes notes, "a traditional and inherently conservative industry." While infographics within the context of a traditional report or website do appear, text is still the primary means that these companies use to convey information about themselves on all levels, and that includes in the realm of CSR.

NATIONWIDE FINANCIAL SERVICES

Nationwide currently has a CSR rating of 77. As noted by Sky Top Strategies, "The company has a long history in community engagement practices, including over 60 years of partnership with The American Red Cross and the Columbus Children’s Hospital. Their employees donate a total of nearly 16,000 units of blood annually, and Nationwide Financial Services provided a $100,000 donation to Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program for Hurricane Matthew Relief. Nationwide has also partnered with Feeding America and donated 20 million meals over the course of 14 years." Nationwide promotes its philanthropy, volunteerism, and workplace giving on its website, particularly highlighting the efforts of the Nationwide Foundation. We found only one relevant and current video on their YouTube channel, and this was a short on childproofing a nursery.

TIAA

With a CSR rating of 76, TIAA has an extensive page boasting about its community, diversity & inclusion, sustainability, responsible investment, and stewardship, even providing a 40-page report on its activities. This report is almost entirely conveyed in text, broken up by the occasional stock photo. TIAA is particularly proud of championing corporate responsibility in the companies it invests in. For example, TIAA champions "proxy access," which "allows shareholder-nominated board candidates to be listed on the management-sponsored proxy ballot, without the shareholder having to conduct an expensive proxy contest."
TIAA puts its money where its mouth is. As Forbes noted in 2016, "The TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund has doubled to $2.3 billion since 2011," with a 2.7% annualized return, only slightly trailing the market. According to Kiplinger, this fund is divided into two parts: 70% of the assets are invested "in bonds issued by U.S. firms that win the best ESG ratings from financial data provider MSCI." The remaining 30% is set aside "for so-called impact investing" in a project or company creating a measurable positive impact on the world, like the Topaz Solar Farm in California.
In addition, TIAA won five separate awards for their diverse and inclusive culture in one year alone. That same year saw over 4,000 TIAA employees volunteer some 10,000 hours, impacting nearly 100,000 people in programs ranging from packing snacks and meals for disadvantaged children to writing cards in support of US military personnel. Between 2007 and 2015, TIAA cut energy use in its office sector by 22.1% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 467,800 metric tons.

NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

The New York Life Insurance Company has a CSR rating of 76, but rates even higher (81) for how it treats its employees. It is well-known for its inclusive employee policies and for providing those employees with various educational programs, and it is this aspect of its CSR that the company is most proud of, even publishing a "Diversity and Inclusion 2016 Year in Review" in PDF. As in the case of TIAA, this report is primarily text interspersed with photos, though pages 25-26 sum up the rest of the report and includes a few infographics and graphs. We did not find the infographics to be particularly informative, however. Among other things, New York Life touts creating its own Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2006 "to promote equal employment opportunity and workforce diversity, strengthen diverse procurement practices, and engage in community outreach." New York Life claims that 70% of all of its new agent hires in 2016 were "cultural market and female agents," and that 42% of its board members are women and minorities.

MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL

The Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, aka MassMutual, scores a CSR rating of 69 on CSR Hub. Its primary way of communicating its CSR commitment is through its website, where it describes how it supports local communities with more than $20 million contributed annually to organizations in the US; its own programs, such as Mutual Impact, FutureSmart, and LifeBridge; the investment of $1.6 million in its employee education assistance program; its high ethical standards; and its focus on "conservation, efficiency and renewable energy," including positioning 1,750 solar panels on the roof of their headquarters, generating 384,000 kilowatts of electricity a year.
As with so many of the other examples we found, MassMutual has produced a CSR report in which it highlights its achievements using text and photographs. That report is as focused on the company's business accomplishments as its CSR, but does provide concrete examples of the latter, including presenting $155,000 in grants to 17 nonprofits across the country and providing a "Live Healthy, Live Well" program for its employees which provided $1.5 million in incentives. As in the other examples here, text rather than visuals dominates MassMutual's presentation.
MassMutual also communicates its commitment through press releases, such as the announcement of appointing Dennis Duquette as Head of Community Responsibility and President of the MassMutual Foundation in December 2016 and the announcement that MassMutual was recognized in Fortune Magazine's 2018 list of "World's Most Admired Companies." We found a handful of relevant videos on MassMutual's YouTube channel (e.g., "A culture of diversity") which feature a speaker against a nondescript blue background discussing the topic. However, these videos were all five years old, and we did not find any more current.

USAA

United Services Automobile Association (USAA) scores a 68 CSR rating overall, but scores a 74 in providing for its employees. As with the other companies featured here, its primary means to communicate its CSR commitment is through a dedicated page on its website. This page covers many of the usual bases such as providing programs, charity, and volunteerism to address hunger, homelessness, and education.
USAA is unique among the other companies discussed in this report in that its signature cause is military family resiliency. USAA provides "philanthropic investments at the national level ... to make a positive impact in the lives of service members and their families by supporting programs that help them weather the challenges of military life." These include programs for the families of fallen and wounded veterans, special financial programs to meet the investing needs of military families, and providing career options for both veterans and their spouses. Since providing financial services to military veterans is the core of the USAA's business, their YouTube channel does highlight this commitment, including, for example, having short financial advice videos specifically for military personnel.

CONCLUSION

Based on CSR Hub's ratings, we have determined that Nationwide, TIAA, New York Life, Massachusetts Mutual, and USAA are the top five companies in terms of corporate social responsibility. However, while all five boast about their programs, they do so using very conservative methods, primarily via text broken up by photos on their homepages and in yearly full-color CSR reports, as well as through traditional press releases. While we found a few videos highlighting one or more CSR values, this does not appear to be as common as one might expect, and in many cases, the videos on the topic were last updated several years ago. It appears that the well-known conservatism and traditionalism of the financial industry extends even to communicating progressive values.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01