Organic and natural companies need to improve CSR communication

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Corporate social responsibility

Natural and organic companies need to start communicating about their corporate social responsibility initiatives as the limelight is currently being stolen by conventional companies with larger communication budgets.

Although often the pioneers of many CSR initiatives, natural and organic companies have not always communicated about them, according to a recent report published by market research company Organic Monitor.

This lack of communication is understandable, according to the report, as the pillars of CSR are often central to the workings of such companies and not thought to be exceptional; however, it is concerning.

“It is urgent that these companies start communicating, and quickly,”​ research director at Organic Monitor, Amarjit Sahota, told

Another reason behind this communication inequality could be the resources required and the communication infrastructure needed to produce a meaningful CSR report and gain media coverage of it.

US-based Burt’s Bees is a good example of the difference that the investment and communication experience of a larger company can make, according to Sahota.

“Burt’s Bees has always had a strong focus on corporate philanthropy, but it was only when it received investment from a larger company that it started doing a sustainability report.”

Weleda was another example Sahota referenced, explaining that the company has been involved in fair trading partnerships for many years but only started explaining its practices on its website relatively recently.

And, according to Sahota, there are differences between the actions taken by more conventional companies and the efforts of the majority of natural and organic companies.

Unilever, for example, has pledged to use only sustainable palm oil by 2015. While for Sahota this is an admirable and valuable move, it is not on the same level as Weleda, which can guarantee almost every one of their ingredients as fully traceable and sustainability sourced.

Sourcing practices underreported

Similar findings were illustrated by the Union for Ethical BioTrade’s annual biodiversity barometer, which aims to track consumer awareness of the concept and the way it is reported by companies and in the media.

The Union’s barometer, published in April of this year, concentrates in particular on the part of a company’s communication that refers to sourcing raw ingredients from natural resources.

While the barometer focuses mainly on biodiversity rather than CSR in its entirety, it saw similar results. Natural and organic companies, despite what one might expect, were not leading the way when it came to communicating on their sourcing practices and how they affect biodiversity.

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