Corporate responsibility and sustainability reports, shorted to CRS, are produced every year particularly by bigger, corporations to help guide their environmental and ethical goals for the year. It is not a mandatory practice in the US, though EU directive 2014/95 does state that large companies much reveal information such as how they operate and run their social and environmental challenges. Those who report generally keep to standards such as ISO 260000.
Why does this matter to me? The report shows the path that a company is taking in the future. This is how one can know if a company is really fixing their issues, or not.
For example many years ago Nike had major backlash because their shoes were made in sweatshops. Since then their CRS includes a report on audits made at all factories that work for their brand. Any that weren't up to the listed standards go through a remedial process to improve worker conditions. This report shows that they are dedicated to change, and that they're taking corrective actions to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Where can I find these reports? Google the company name and CRS and it should bring you straight to their page, where you can download the report.
What should I look for in these reports? Look for what matters to you and are relevant to the company! As a chemist who cares about the environment I often look for reduction of fluoronated compound emissions (PFCs) which primarily come from factories or fridges. I also look for greenhouse gas reductions as well as sourcing of products and supplier responsibility. That means they know that they aren't purchasing metals that might finance armed conflict, or paper that came from taking down a whole forest.
What should I do if I find something I do or don't like? Let them know! Often corporations don't expect much PR out of their CRS. The fact that they could get an email or letter about it lets them know early that the public does or doesn't care about the same objectives, and they have the time to adjust their goals accordingly!
Homework: Go skim one CSR report for a company that you shop for right now! Do you agree with what their goals for the year are? Let me know in the comments!
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