Going Naked – Responsible 100
Proving you are trustworthy is a difficult challenge. Trust can’t be claimed, it has to be earned – it is, if you like, in the eye of the beholder. It has the power to make or break a brand, but it’s not under the control of the brand managers. And it’s no quick win – it must accumulated over time, built on a firm foundation of values and nurtured by a consistent, strategic commitment to embedding those values throughout the business.
One response to this challenge is radical transparency, but it’s not for the fainthearted. The prevailing mind-set is that businesses should only talk about their strengths and their successes; that being open about things you know you can do better will damage the brand and the bottom line. In reality, that refusal to acknowledge faults only fuels the cynicism of the increasingly well-informed consumer who knows that, just like people, no company is perfect. Some brave companies are relinquishing their corporate fig leaf and going all-in on transparency. Interface is one such company, and it’s not just being transparent on its own product impacts, it’s challenging the rest of its industry – indeed, businesses as a whole – to do the same.
But if transparency is hard to prove, it’s also hard to measure. And as the adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. This, then, is what led Kyocera Document Solutions (UK) to partner with Responsible 100 – an ambitious and innovative organisation that is part transparency benchmark and part social movement.
KDUK has been working with Responsible 100 for several years, having recognised that it filled an unmet need to benchmark our performance on a range of CSR issues and also provided a unique opportunity to share the story behind the metrics. During that time both the process and platform have evolved, shaped by the contributions from companies, subject matter experts, NGOs, consumers and pressure groups at a series of workshops to refine the questions, challenge the answers and define the scorecard. At these meetings, participating companies “go naked”, opening up their strategy to close scrutiny, including by organisations that are their most vocal critics.
As a result of this rigorous process the resulting questions and scorecards are extremely robust. Participation is not always comfortable, but provides an unparalleled opportunity to understand issues from a wide range of stakeholder perspectives and gain not just a critique of current strategy but insights that can drive future improvements. However, its value doesn’t end there. Once answers to the Responsible 100 questions have been published, they are open for comment by anybody with access to the internet. As transparency goes, it doesn’t get more radical than that.
Responsible 100 is a work in progress; a small but growing group of early adopters are working through its questions, only one-third of which have currently been published. But it has already been recognised in the Better Society Awards and 2 Degrees Leaders Awards as a powerful force for transparency on CSR issues.