Home » What makes for leadership in sustainability communications? We take the pulse in Switzerland




What makes for leadership in sustainability communications? We take the pulse in Switzerland

Nobody following the annual thought leadership extravaganza in Davos can have missed the focus on sustainability, ESG and stakeholder capitalism in 2020.

According to Factiva, there were 1,671 mentions of “sustainability” in major news outlets in the two weeks covering Davos and the run-up to the event this year, a jump from 371 last year. In 2019, “stakeholder capitalism” got just one mention; this year – 369.

That snapshot captures the growth in interest we are seeing in corporate sustainability not just from business leaders and finance but also from consumers and employees. How are companies in Davos’s host country responding? Who is taking the lead in transparency and engagement on environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics?

We’ve been checking out the sustainability communications of leading Swiss companies since 2009 and are now publishing results of our latest study, which considered 60 major companies in Switzerland. We’ve not been just assessing catchy storytelling campaigns or measuring social media engagement metrics; we’ve been looking above all for evidence of how that digital content connects to a credible strategy and transparency on progress. It’s the kind of “walk-the-talk” clarity that we know stakeholders are clamouring for.

The two companies to emerge as top performers in Switzerland were Nestlé, a stalwart of our research for at least a decade, and healthcare giant Roche. To see why they deserve being picked out, take time to examine how they set out their commitment, connecting their strategy directly to societal needs and stakeholder expectations as well as giving hard evidence of what that means in practice through actions, performance data and exemplary stories. That’s the kind of joined-up communications we prize in .future, our new research that’s examined the sustainability communications of about 230 European companies.

Nestlé and Roche were also among the top performers in our flagship study of Europe’s top 50 companies alongside names such as Unilever, Eni and Bayer.

Beyond these two leaders, other companies stand out in different aspects of our evaluation model:

  • Supermarket company Migros stood out for the way it connects social and environmental themes across its digital channels
  • Clariant was singled out the stories is uses to illustrate how sustainability is being embedded into its offering of speciality chemicals
  • Syngenta was top for the way it talks about sustainability issues through Facebook and other social media channels
  • Flavourings and fragrance maker Givaudan for the way it explores sustainability themes in its business through case studies and YouTube videos

Some of these examples should inspire other Swiss firms to up their game in time for Davos 2021: in fact, in an article for the Zurich-based Centre for Corporate Reporting, we’ve noted that too many Swiss companies are failing on non-financial transparency at a time when there are federal moves to impose mandatory ESG reporting.

For more information, check out our Swiss .future white paper.