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Communications 07 Oct 2016

Communication: the key to CSR recognition

18% of consumers are unable to rate the social commitment of companies due to a lack of awareness of the policies and actions that they develop. However, when asked to rate companies based on their performance other fields (products/services, leadership, innovation, etc), this percentage drops by 50%. This is one of the key takeaways of the 2016 CSR RepTrak® 100 report, recently released by consulting firm Reputation Institute within the framework of a webinar, in which BBVA also participated.

For Fernando Prado, Managing Partner at Reputation Institute, Spain & Latin America, “this unawareness detracts from company’s overall competitiveness as it hurts their ability to build trust and engagement among their stakeholders.” In his opinion, the only way to enhance how the general public perceives a company’s responsible behavior is through efficient communication.

The Reputation Institute’s report also identifies three essential requirements that communication must meet to achieve this goal: it must invite stakeholders to engage in an open exchange about the company’s activities, it must provide sufficient and accurate information about its corporate performance on any topic and, finally, it must be genuine in what it says and what it defends.

2016 Global CSR RepTrak

The Yo soy empleo (I am employment) initiative, promoted by BBVA, was presented in the aforementioned webinar as an example of the benefits that a project with a marked component of social commitment can yield for companies in terms of positioning and shifting attitudes towards a company, when properly communicated. Of the €26.5 million BBVA invested in Yo soy empleo, 25% were spent on communication.

Through Yo soy empleo, SMEs and self-employed workers have benefitted from the different form of financial aid offered by BBVA to support contracting, training and recruitment processes. The results speak clearly about the initiative’s success: 10,000 new jobs, 55% of them through permanent contracts and 13% of self-employment. Two more figures underscore the relevance of Yo Soy Empleo in the context of the economic crisis that prevailed when it was launched: 40% of the new hires were under the age of 30 and had been unemployed for an average 14 months.

Yo soy empleo helped BBVA improve its public perception, especially in a dimension that is essential to its reputation such as Citizenship (understood as social investment). Thus, among its customers it reduced by 14.6 points the distance that separated it from the sector leader in 2014, to stand just 3.4 points behind it. The trend of the Citizenship dimension has been even more favorable among non-customers, to the point that it has become the leading company, when in 2010 it was 13 points behind. A similar trend is reflected in the perceptions of BBVA’s own employees regarding the institution’s social commitment, which improved by 11.6 points over the same period.

Also, out of the seven dimensions that make up the Reputation Institute’s RepTrak® model, which has become the de facto standard for measuring and managing corporate reputation, Citizenship is the dimension in which more progress was made.

The data on which the 2016 CSR RepTrak® 100 report is based show that company-owned communication channels with a good reputation are more effective when communicating CSR actions and boosting engagement among its target audience, just as in the case of Yo soy empleo. However, owned channels with weak reputation are perceived as less reliable and force companies to resort to third parties (the media, NGOs, etc) to build said credibility.

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