Yes you heard me - 'Social Washing'.
Social washing, like the better-known greenwashing, occurs when there is a disconnect between perceived commitments to social issues and genuine action. I was reminded of this the other day when I read this article showcasing some of the recent campaigns against major brands.
As the article rightfully shows, some companies make vague, broad reaching statements and therefore leave themselves wide open to scrutiny. But other examples I feel are somewhat harsh as there is many reasons and complexities behind why companies commitments can fall somewhat short.
For many years now our focus in Intertek shifted greatly to data and the power of how data helps tell your story the right way. Especially in the Social Responsibility space which is very complex, with increasing new Human Rights Due Diligence, the pressure for corporates to start reporting and disclosing data on their due diligence. As a result we see companies some what lost on what they should and shouldn't disclose.
It is vital that companies not only set clear objectives on social issues, but that they are clear on how they are going to measure them and communicate them. And please think beyond the marketing campaign.
Data is Key To uncover social washing and assess whether social risks are being appropriately managed, investors must push for greater data disclosure. However, unlike environmental risk, which has a well-established framework and comparable metrics like carbon emissions, measuring social risk is a still- evolving field.