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Tips for Setting Up a Corporate Disclosure System

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 9, 2011 4:47:13 PM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

In a couple weeks, we at CSRHUB will have the pleasure of hosting a panel at the Commit!Forum in New York on the risks and opportunities of Corporate Disclosure.  I’ve been lucky enough to get a great group of panelists and I’m sure we’ll have a lively discussion.

During the prep for the meeting, I gathered advice from these experienced CSR professionals about many issues, including how to get started with sustainability disclosure.  They gave me several great tips that I felt I should pass on.

  1. Get the CEO to buy in.  No new way of doing things will survive long inside a large company, without support from the top.  Adopting a sustainability program requires a change of culture and the CEO must support the transformation.
  2. Set up a system.  There are tools you can buy for tracking sustainability information.  Or, you can add something to your existing systems.  But without some way to measure progress, your disclosure effort is likely to lose direction and flounder.
  3. Get employees to buy in.  Express the benefit of disclosure — your goals — in terms that will attract employee interest and support.  They can then discuss your plan, add their own innovative ideas, and help you communicate it to others.
  4. Integrate into your comp system.  It takes work to disclose information.  The managers who do the work deserve some benefits.  Making good performance on social issues a factor in overall compensation is the best way to build it into the business.
  5. Don’t make enemies.  You’ll need more than approval from legal — you need them to believe that it is better to manage disclosure than to have it forced on you. Communications, brand management, and purchasing may have something to say about your plan. Find ways to generate data they can use in their work. It may take twenty friends to offset the bad vibes you’ll get from one enemy.

I’m sure that my panelists have other ideas on this subject — and that they could refine and improve the points I’ve made. I’ll listen during the conference and try to post other insights and ideas from the Commit!Forum after it is over.

Bahar Gidwani is a Cofounder and CEO of CSRHUB. Formerly, he was the CEO of New York-based Index Stock Imagery, Inc, from 1991 through its sale in 2006. He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor Web site. Bahar holds a CFA, was a partner at Kidder, Peabody & Co., and worked at McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to both large companies such as Citibank, GE, and Acxiom and a number of smaller software and Web-based companies. He has an MBA (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and a BS in Astronomy and Physics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College. Bahar races sailboats, plays competitive bridge, and is based in New York City.


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