The Communication Gap
in CSR between
Companies and
Social Organisations
La falta de comunicación
materia de la RSC
entre empresas y
organizaciones sociales
aDResearch ESIC
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Mazo Salmerón, M.ª E., (20 15). The Communication Gap
in CSR between Companies and Social Organisations.
Revista Internacional de Investigación en Comunicación
aDResearch ESIC. Nº 12 Vol 12.
Segundo semestre, julio-diciembre 2015. Págs. 46 a 63
DOI: 12.7263/ADRESIC.012.003
María Elena Mazo Salmerón
Lecturer at CEU San Pablo University
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The Communication Gap
in CSR between
Companies and
Social Organisations
La falta de comunicación
materia de la RSC
entre empresas y
organizaciones sociales
Las actividades de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa (RSC) en Europa se ven
afectadas por la falta de comunicación entre las empresas, que realizan las activi-
dades de RSC, y las organizaciones no empresariales, que necesitan que las empre-
sas encuentren medios para nanciar sus programas sociales. Debemos investigar
y debatir el marco comunicativo de ambas situaciones para acercar posturas lo
antes posible. De esta manera, es necesario analizar las características de esta falta
de comunicación y su contexto, así como estudiar el marco europeo de las ini-
ciativas RSC, además de otras iniciativas internacionales. Por último, se muestra el
proceso de comunicación de RSC y la base de un estudio de la participación de
la RSC, a partir de los diferentes grupos objetivo, constuirá un futuro modelo de
comunicación equilibrada de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa, que podría ser
una referencia para el profesional de la comunicación que se ocupa de este tipo
de actividades.
The Corporate Social Responsibility -CSR- activities in the European countries
are aected by a communicative gap between enterprises, which implement
CSR activities, and the non-business organizations that need the companies to
nd nancial resources for launching their social programs. We must research
and debate the communicative frame of both situations in order to help bridge
them as much as possible. In this way, it is necessary to analyse the features
of this gap, and its communication context, as well as to study the European
framework of CSR initiatives, as well as other international initiatives. Finally, the
CSR communication process is shown and the basis for a study of CSR involve-
ment from the dierent target groups will build a future balanced Communica-
tion Model of Corporate Social Responsibility, which could be a reference for the
communication professional who deals with these kinds of activities.
JEL Classication:
I3, J5, J24, L2, L31,
L33, O35, P46, P48
Key words:
communicative gap,
social responsibility,
corporate communi-
cation, CSR activities
Clasicación JEL:
I3, J5, J24, L2, L31,
L33, O35, P46, P48
Palabras clave:
falta de comunica-
ción, responsabili-
dad social, comuni-
cación corporativa,
actividades RSC.
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1. Introduction: The Communication
Gap in CSR
Under the main topic of the Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) , it is proposed the following
subject: there is a gap in the communicative con-
text and the language between enterprises, which
implement CSR, and the social organisations and
non-profit institutions which need financial re-
sources to go on with their aid programs. We must
research and debate the communicative frame of
both situations in order to help bridge them as
much as possible.
The origin of this proposal is found in the
Congress of Europe: 60 ideas for Europe, organi-
zed by the European Movement in The Hague
on the 23rd and 24th of May, 2008, to cele-
brate the 60
Anniversary of the Congress of
1948, where Winston Churchill presided over
the creation of the current European Union.
This meeting was called in every European
country as an open survey to their citizens.
Under the headline «Building the Europe of the
Future Together», an ideas competition was or-
ganised. The idea posted on the 27
of March
2008 by the author was: «Corporate Social Res-
ponsibilities Communicative Gap»: the EU should
continue to encourage a culture of Corporate So-
cial Responsibility by companies and help bridge
the communication gap between companies, insti-
tutions and non-profit-organisations». The pro-
posal was voted for« online» by the European
citizens and, afterwards, by the 500 partici-
pants at The Hague Congress. In the end, the
idea was elected as one of the 20 most valuable
ones in the economic-social area of the Forum,
and it was included under the 60´s best ideas
for improving Europe.
The facts that caused this gap were «in the air»
and the author of this article materialised and
verbalised it for Europe’s institutions. The Con-
gress of Europe confirmed the idea as a common
concern in the different European countries in
2008. As it is known, today, in 2014, European
Institutions are currently revising the CSR Stra-
tegy 2011-2014 and proposing a new strategy
under Horizon 2020. The gap is found eviden-
ced in documents, meetings and committees
crossed nowadays.
2. CSR Communication Context
Two environments feature communication con-
text in the Corporate Social Responsibility field:
the business organisations sector, including SMEs
and large enterprises, and the non-business or-
ganisations field. Both are being defined by the
European CSR framework and other internatio-
nal institutions.
In both fields we assume the corporate com-
munication essentials of Cees B.M. van Riel &
Charles J. Fombrun, who classify the corporate
communication in management communications,
marketing communications and organizational
communications (2007: 14) The CSR activities
could be included into the first and third op-
tions. The Professor in Corporate Communica-
tion Joep Cornelissen (Leeds University Business
School) defines this type of communication as
«a management function that is responsible for
overseeing and coordinating the work done by
communication practitioners in different specia-
list disciplines such as media relations, public
affairs and internal communication… manage-
ment function that offers a framework for the
effective coordination of all internal and external
communication with the overall purpose of esta-
blishing and maintaining favourable reputation
with stakeholder groups upon which the organi-
zation is dependent» (2008: 5).
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2.1. Two CSR Environments
If we want to define the communication context
where this Corporate Responsibility gap is pro-
duced, the main elements of the process must be
analysed in the two environments where the gap
is identified: the «business field» and «the non-
business field».
The enterprises, which are aware of behaving
with responsibility in their own environment,
are encouraging the CSR activities trying to get
along in harmony with the social institutions.
Meanwhile the second ones find, in the relation-
ship with companies the need financial support
for their social and humanitarian programs.
Gaudencio Esteban Velasco (2005: 19), Profes-
sor in Law at Complutense University of Madrid
(UCM), considers the corporate social responsi-
bility as an essential ethical function of every
company and its managers. Antonio Argandoña,
Lecturer at IESE Business School, explains the
idea (2007:27) as a mixed concept from ethical,
sociological and economic variables. Pedro Rive-
ro Torre (2005:78), Professor of Finance Eco-
nomy at UCM, adds two features to CSR: willful-
ness and a continuos evolution.
However, the strategies, corporate goals, re-
sources and, also, language of enterprises and
social entities are completely different and they
must be studied. The company who is worried
about the importance of this kind of responsibi-
lity, approaches the social institutions with gene-
rous intentions, but with high quality and profi-
table requirements in terms of reputation and
image, which is not easy to understand by most
non-business institutions.
Enterprise communication tools are, in gene-
ral, professionalised. The ones applied to the
CSR process are supposed to be something more
than communication campaigns well designed
and implemented. The conscience and cons-
ciousness are integrated.
If the company wishes to secure a strong re-
putation among their clients and general public
opinion, it must behave with coherence, genero-
sity, sincerity and flexibility in order to adapt to
the «social code» of the social civil organization
that is helping it to provide such a «responsible»
On one hand, the current exchange is not ba-
lanced and several solutions are required among
the communication professional concerned with
companies´ «conscience and consciousness»;
and on the other hand, the Corporate Responsi-
bility Culture at the small and medium enterpri-
ses –SMEs- should be encouraged. Their lower
level of professionalisation in general, and in
communication in particular, generate a lack of
knowledge in these kind of policies, as well as in
the execution of actions without strategic plan-
ning execution. As an example, the employee
volunteer plans are held in large corporations,
but are hardly found in SMEs. Another interes-
ting issue is the relationship between companies
and public institutions, which should be also
improved for being valuable intermediate agents.
2.1.1. Business organizations: from
SME to large enterprise
Lemonche, Mateo, Pastor, Lorenzo & Gómez
(2013) had worked for Forética (a Spanish CSR
companies and professionals association, which
hold more than 200 members, and is a partner
of CSR Europe) an interesting report called «The
CSR 30 Golden Rules for SMEs». The proposal´s
goals are to improve their management and their
competitiveness, to afford the challenges that
they must take, and to develop them in a hard
context featured by the lack of human and fi-
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nancial resources. Through the 30 simple but
accurate rules, any SME could elaborate a CSR
plan with short, medium and large objectives, in
order to create a responsible brand strategy.
Norm SGE 21 (it is the first CSR Management
European System), developed by Forética, fo-
llowed in the report. It means, in a volunteer way,
an audit process and a certification of the ethic
and Social Responsibility Management. Lemon-
che et al. (2013) mentioned the gap between big
companies and SMEs and explained it by the
pressure that big enterprises hold to the SMEs,
which must apply their criteria, and their diffi-
culties in the implementation of CSR plans desig-
ned to multinational corporations. Their structu-
re, motivation and results are not comparable. A
CSR plan must be adapted to the SME language.
If we analyse the thirty rules mentioned above by
Lemonche et al (2013), fifteen are communicati-
ve ones, which means that 50% of the document
suggests communication solutions. The impor-
tance of communicative factors in CSR process is
clear. Mª Victoria Carrillo, PhD in Communica-
tion (UCM), Ana Castillo, Lecturer at Advertising
and Public Relations in Universidad de Extrema-
dura, and Leonor Gómez, Lecturer in Sociology
in U. de Extremadura, explained that the CSR
management process in Spain was slow and only
some large enterprises as Telefónica, BBVA and
Vodafone were assuming their statements (2005:
91). They also provided an interesting opinion
research (Carrillo et all, 2005: 109-132) among
SMEs which identifies their lack of resources,
and their psychological barriers against the com-
munication tools in general.
If we study the above-mentioned document
in a little detail we could realise the weight of
each communication variable. In the first part of
the report, ten rules are found to create the ini-
tial CSR Plan for SMEs. Among them we must
highlight the fourth, fifth, eighth and tenth rules
for their clear communicative connotations: the
fourth one (The three «E»: escuchar, escuchar y
escuchar -listen, listen and listen-: one of the first
key factors is to dialogue with the stakeholders);
the fifth rule (commitment and leadership of the
managers); the eighth one (participation of all
the staff); and the tenth (integration). In the se-
cond part, among the ten rules held to elaborate
the first CSR Report, the following are the ones
that contain communicative elements: the four-
th (the CSR content that really interest the stake-
holders and to identify with accuracy the targets
of the SME); the sixth rule (to prepare the docu-
ment with transparent criteria); the eighth one
(the Report as a management tool) and the tenth
(the report as a communication medium which
will help the company to introduce itself into the
market and to several important events). In the
third part, there are ten more rules to create a
responsible brand and the web 2.0 strategies.
Communication values are found in the fo-
llowing points: the first rule (responsible values
as the best allies of the corporate strategy); the
second one (reputation, the most elusive and in-
tangible); the third point (the evolution of the
four Marketing «Ps»: product, price, place and
promotion); the fifth rule (responsible brands, a
trust matter); the sixth one (the communication
as part of the CSR Strategy: the company not
only needs to be responsible but also to appear
as a responsible agent to their stakeholders); the
seventh point (to adapt to the current times the
web 2.0); and the ninth rule (the responsible
marketing as part of the CSR Strategy) . The fif-
teen norms identified above indicate the value of
the communications strategy and planning in
CSR matters.
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Meanwhile the small and medium-size enter-
prise suffers, in general, from a lack of modern
management procedures, large companies are
nowadays measuring their CSR impact. In
Spain, the Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad
(Sustainability Excellence Club which compro-
mises a group of twenty large companies concer-
ned with sustainability, not only in economic
and social issues, but also in environmental
ones: BSH, Endesa, FCC, Iberdrola, Vodafone,
Renfe, Red Eléctrica, etc.-) presented in April
2014 the report «Multi-sectorial Study of the
CSR state in the Spanish large enterprise». The
survey (Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad,
2014) had been held in 147 companies from
more than 20 sectors. The report shows the level
of CSR implementation, indicates the trends
found in the most advanced enterprises, compa-
res the evolution suffered from the previous
2011 report, and analyses the regulation and pu-
blic policies´ impact. The companies with a tur-
nover equal to or over 300 million euros have
obtained a CSR mark of 604 points out of 1,000.
They have passed the «exam» with a medium
range of impact. The company with the highest
mark (927 points) was by far and away the one
with the least marks (204 points). Regarding
ethical codes, 89% of the enterprises included
them in their management system, and 66% of
them have implemented particular actions. Lar-
ge enterprise is, therefore, sensitive to the cons-
cience and consciousness through CSR issues, as
this report is indicating.
If we note that 17% of enterprises who achie-
ved a higher percentage in this research (750
points), 96% of them have aligned their Corpo-
rate Responsibility strategy to their business stra-
tegy, and 88% hold a CSR director, which leaves
24% of the companies dependent on the Chief
Executive Officer (CEO). Another interesting
fact is that 92% of the companies with higher
marks uses CSR criteria to select their suppliers,
and that 88% of them have a commitment to
human rights policies. Moreover, they fulfill the
CSR plan in a range of 75%-100% and 96%
have their management system follow the plan.
Sostenibilidad´s study (2014) is interesting for
its communicative results: 86% of the large en-
terprises evaluate the tangible and non-tangible
results of their CSR projects, and 96% of these
companies are incorporating Information and
Communication Technologies.
Large enterprises are represented in Spain
with other stakeholders in the CSR State Council
(CERSE) at the Social Security and Employment
Ministry. The work-team created in CERSE in-
cludes not only enterprise organisations, but
also public administration, trade unions, social
civil organisations, national, regional and local
governments, CSR professionals, academic ex-
perts and citizens, through the public informa-
tion process opened to evaluate the draft of the
Estrategia Española de Responsabilidad Social de las
Empresas (2014) «Corporate Social Responsi-
bility Spanish Strategy»—.
This key CSR document has been approved
at the CERSE Plenary Session of July 16t
, 2014,
under the presidency of the Spanish Minister,
Mrs. Fátima Báñez. In CSR there is, therefore, a
strong support from the National Government
executives. Spain is suggesting in the Report a
new 2014-2020 CSR strategy, simultaneously
with their colleagues from other European cou-
ntries. These policies are designed for enterpri-
ses, and also for public administration and the
rest of the organisations, with the aim of moving
towards a more competitive, productive, sustai-
nable and integrated society and economy, as
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well as creating a common framework to co-or-
dinate private and public CSR policies. The
identified CSR gap will be reduced with these
co-ordination policies.
The main content of CERSE´s Strategy (2014)
is explained in six principles, four objectives,
and ten plans with sixty particular measures.
The principles are competitiveness, social cohe-
sion, shared value creation, sustainability, trans-
parency and volunteering. From the communi-
cation point of view, and in order to reduce the
gap mentioned, the key factors are social cohe-
sion, shared value creation and transparency.
The four CSR Strategy objectives indicated
have communication implications (with quota-
tion marks): 1. To «boost and promote» CSR
activities among enterprises (SMEs included),
and other public and private organisations in
their different locations; 2. To «identify and pro-
mote» CSR as a competitive, sustainable and
social cohesion attribute; 3. To «spread» the
CSR values in the Society; and 4. To «create» a
common CSR reference Framework. Clearly,
this new Strategy will be managed by communi-
cative professionals who will bring the different
CSR agents and their expertise in creating per-
suading messages and implementing effective
Amongst the ten CSR Strategy plans propo-
sed by CERSE (2014), eight of them are really
positive for helping bridge the gap: 1- CSR pro-
motion as a drive element of sustainable organi-
sations. This means to communicate the CSR
culture with, for instance, the diffusion of the
best practices; 2- To integrate CSR in education,
training and research; 3- Transparency and
Good Governance, in order to increase the trust
of the organisations; 6- Relations with suppliers;
7- Responsible Consuming; 8- Environmentally
responsible; 9- Development and Co-operation;
and 10- Co-ordination and Participation, among
the different administrations and organisations
On a local level, the Employment and Social
Security Spanish Ministry (2012) has coordina-
ted since 2008 RETOS, «The Social Responsible
Territory Network», through its CSR and Social
Economy DG. This network includes twenty-six
local Spanish territories and tries to be a referen-
ce point in social responsibility. In this local ex-
perience, the enterprises, public administration
and third sector are working together in the
same direction.
The participative governance is followed by
the mentioned agents with the aim of reaching
balance between economic, social, sustainable
and cultural factors. Into RETOS´ five objectives,
the third (to create awareness, inform and edu-
cate), the fourth (to support, encourage and
boost the CSR initiatives) and the fifth (to contri-
bute in keeping CSR concept as a transversal
one), have communicative ingredients.
2.1.2. Non-business Organisations
Meanwhile, the social entity has, nowadays, a
general delay in their management and strategic
planning approach, in spite of the efforts they
are making recently to professionalise their staff.
Communication activities have, in this case, a
lower level of development than the companies
that apply CSR plans. Most of them, with the
exception of the larger social institutions –Red
Cross, Unicef, Acnur, etc.- suffer a lack of com-
munication strategy. They neither count on ma-
nagement support, nor have existing communi-
cation managers. The task of communication is
performed by any member of staff who also de-
velops other non-communicative tasks. Moreo-
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ver, the investment in communication tools is
not considered. These kinds of organisations
only provide resources to create, for example, a
website without a strategic message, or to «jump»
into the social media as private citizens, without
a professional approach. However, one of their
main goals is to find sponsors who will pay the
cost of their social projects. Public resources
have been limited and so they search for finan-
cial support from the private sector.
Most of these types of organisations do not
know how to approach companies or how to in-
troduce a new project that could help them in an
efficient search campaign for sponsors. In addi-
tion, they do not realise that the most important
aspects for the Sponsors are in terms of image
and communication values: presence at their
events, their advertisements, their press mate-
rial, etc. The problem is also, in this case, com-
Communicative research requirements in the
non-business field are huge, but the wide diver-
sity of these organisations and their lack of fi-
nancial resources for investigating, make the
task almost impossible. In the 3
chapter of this
paper there will be found some factors and va-
riables which will be researched in further stu-
2.2. The European CSR Framework
2.2.1. European CSR Institutions
The reasons for the interest in CSR activities re-
ported by European Commission (2011) were
the economic crisis and its social consequences
that have damaged the trust and confidence in
business, social environments and public opi-
nion. The European Institutions had to react and
place their focus in the social and ethical beha-
vior of enterprises and public organisations.
The DG of Enterprise and Industry (Unit D.1
Entrepreneurship and Social Economy) of the
European Commission has recently called for a
public consultation to seek feedback on the
achievements, shortcomings and future challen-
ges of the CSR Commission activities as it was
outlined in the Commission´s 2011-2014 Com-
munication on «A renewed EU strategy 2011-
2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility» (COM
(2011) 681). This period of consultation ends
on August 15th, 2014, and the results will be
summarised in a report that will be introduced
at the next plenary meeting of the Multi-stake-
holder Forum on CSR that will be held in Nov-
ember 2014. The target groups of the consulta-
tion are all the agents involved: public authorities,
Member States authorities, international organi-
sations, civil society organisations, individual
companies, industry associations, academia/uni-
versities, and other relevant stakeholders and
citizens. The European Multi-stakeholder Fo-
rum on CSR will facilitate dialogue between
stakeholders, from the European Commission
and a Co-ordination Committee, which is inte-
grated by business, trade unions, non-govern-
mental organisations and other groups.
The main communicational contributions that
the European Commission (2011) includes in its
report «A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for
Corporate Social Responsibility» are the CSR
new definition, the fact that their policies are in
the interests of enterprises and society as a who-
le, the evaluation of European Policies impact on
CSR, its multidimensional nature, the role of pu-
blic authorities and other stakeholders, the So-
cial Business Initiative, the social dialogue, the
enhancing of CSR´s visibility and their good
practices, its relation with trust in business, the
improvement of companies disclosure of social
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and environmental information and the integra-
tion of CSR into education, training and re-
The European Commission reported that the
CSR new definition means a modern understan-
ding of Corporate Social Responsibility as «the
responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on
society» (2011: 6). Meeting that responsibility is
a prerequisite for all the enterprises that have to
integrate social, environmental, ethical, human
rights and consumer concerns, in close collabo-
ration with their stakeholders. The aims mentio-
ned in the report are (2011:6) «maximizing the
creation of shared value for their owners/share-
holders and for their other stakeholders and so-
ciety at large; and identifying, preventing and
mitigating their possible adverse impacts». We
must highlight the note added to the text that
identifies the complexity of the process depen-
ding on factors such as the size of the enterprise
and the nature of its operations. We agree with
the European Commission on the fact that in
most small and medium-sized enterprises, the
CSR processes are «informal and intuitive». On
the other hand, large enterprises understand the
creation of shared values and are encouraged to
adopt a long-term CSR strategy in order to deve-
lop products and services that would contribute
to improve the social well-being. The report says
that certain types of organisations, such as co-
operatives, mutual and family-owned busines-
ses, have management structures that will positi-
vely contribute to a responsible behavior.
If we recognise the idea that CSR policies
must be in the interest of enterprises and society
as a whole, we are also agreeing that the CSR
strategy will improve the competitiveness of en-
terprises. This process should be run with the
agreement of internal and external stakeholders,
who will suggest to their enterprises their expec-
tations and drives. If the levels of trust increases,
the environment where the enterprise and socie-
ty work will be positive. In fact, it is the only way
to meet the Europe 2020 strategy objectives for
a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, inclu-
ding the 75% employment target (2011:3).
Since the 2001 –Green Paper (COM (2001)
366) the EC has played a key role in the promo-
tion of CSR. The evaluation of the impact of
European Policy on CSR shows the following
indicators (2011:4 & 5): the number of EU en-
terprises that have signed up to the ten CSR
principles of the United National Global Com-
pact has risen from 600 in 2006 to more than
1900 in 2011; the Business Social Compliance
has increased its membership from 69 in 2007
to over 700 in 2011; the number of European
companies publishing sustainability reports fo-
llowing the guidelines of the Global Reporting
Initiative, rose from 270 in 2006 to over 850 in
2011. But, in spite of this progress, many com-
panies in the EU have not yet included the CSR
process. The European Commission mentioned
(2011) that only 15 out of 27 Member States
have national policy plans to promote CSR.
Another issue analysed by the European
Commission (2011) is its multi-dimensional na-
ture. Its agenda covers human rights, labour and
employment, environmental aspects, combating
bribery and corruption, good tax governance,
community development, the integration of di-
sabled persons and consumer interests.
Regarding the role of public authorities, the
EC (2001) recognises their supporting role of a
mix of voluntary policy measures and comple-
mentary regulation as promote transparency,
create incentives for the best practices and ensu-
re corporate accountability. Other stakeholders,
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from enterprises to trade unions or civil society
organisations, run their organisations with diffe-
rent roles. For the enterprises that must originate
and develop their products or services with CSR
criteria, to trade unions or civil society institu-
tions that identify problems, bring pressure and
should work in a constructive way with enter-
prises. Social dialogue has been promoted. At
the same time, consumer and investors would
require from the enterprises and the organisa-
tion mentioned above a more responsible beha-
vior. Meanwhile, the media may raise awareness
of the impacts of enterprises.
In order to enhance the visibility of CSR and
their good practices, the EU has given public re-
cognition to the work done by enterprises in the
CSR field, through different programs with en-
terprises and other stakeholders, both in social
and environmental sectors. The most interesting
programs are the launching, in 2012, of the Eu-
ropean Awards for CSR partnerships between
enterprises and other stakeholders (2.2.2.), and
the creation, in 2013, of multi-stakeholders CSR
platforms. All initiatives created to improve the
communication between the different CSR agents
will be welcomed.
Another interesting point in this paper is the
general goal found in the European Commission
report (2011) of improving and tracking levels
of trust in business. The following quotes ex-
press the high importance of trust and also the
existence of a gap which is causing a restraint in
the trust process (2011:9): «Like all organisa-
tions, including governments and the EU itself,
enterprises need to be trusted by citizens…The-
re is frequently a gap between citizens´ expecta-
tions and what they perceive to be the reality of
business behaviour. This gap is caused partly by
instances of irresponsible behaviour by some en-
terprises, as well as by cases of some enterprises
exaggerating their environmental or social cre-
dentials.» Trust is a key factor in the communi-
cation process, not only for the fact that between
the sender and the receiver the trust is a mini-
mum to communicate, but also for the signifi-
cant importance of the source´s credibility.
The disclosure of social and environmental
information by the enterprises improves their
visibility and awareness, and contributes to the
rise trust in of them. The large companies are, in
general, doing their task, meanwhile the SMEs
often communicate informally and on a volun-
tary basis, as the EC reported (2011). The Cor-
porate Register ( esti-
mates that about 2,500 European companies
publish CSR or sustainability reports. If we con-
sider that EC declared (2011) that there were
42,000 EU large companies, the number of
companies that have done the job was a small
fraction. For this reason there is still a huge
amount of work left if we consider the CSR poli-
cies implementation, which are carried out co-
ordinated at national, regional and local level.
It is clear that a development of CSR activities
requires new skills and changes in values and be-
haviour. The European Commission (2011) pro-
poses integrating CSR into education, training
and research. As an example, European business
schools are encouraged to follow the United Na-
tions Principles for Responsible Management
Education. The EC has been identifying oppor-
tunities for financing research plans and innova-
tion on CSR under the 6th and 7th Framework
Programme, and will continue with this policy
under Horizon 2020. The European CSR fra-
mework is permitting a constructive discussion
with the European Council, the European Parlia-
ment, the Economic and Social Committee, the
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Committee of the Regions, enterprises and other
2.2.2. European CSR Awards:
Communicating the Excellence
The European CSR Award Scheme for Partners-
hip, Innovation and Impact must be recognised
as a Public Relations and Communication Pro-
gramme designed to celebrate the best innovative
CSR partnerships from across 30 countries. In
this case, the dialogue turns into a public recogni-
tion of the best practices. This first ever pan-Euro-
pean Award Scheme was launched in 2012 with
the aims of inspiring CSR excellence in multi-
stakeholder projects, bringing best practices, en-
couraging CSR collaboration between enterprises
and stakeholders and creating innovative solu-
tions to tackle sustainability issues. The project is
funded by the European Commission, and co-led
by CSR Europe (The European organisation focu-
sed on CSR issues that follow the objectives of the
Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and
inclusive growth) and Business in the Communi-
ty, and supported by Aliance Boots, the consor-
tium of 29 National CSR organizations.
In the first edition 749 applications were re-
ceived (259 from SMEs and 490 from large com-
panies). The ceremony was held in Brussels in
June 2013, and there were 63 national winners
in the two categories mentioned: SME and large
company led partnership with a non-business
partner. The Awards Scheme demonstrated so-
cial and business impact as well as innovative
partnership. The experiences are gathered in a
Golden Book, as a compendium of the award
winning projects, which represents a source of
European Commission Vice President Anto-
nio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and En-
trepreneurship, said at the Award Presentation
event: «The remarkable work of the winning
partnerships highlights the best in Corporate So-
cial Responsibility practices in Europe today. It
shows that a strategic approach to CSR is increa-
singly important to the competitiveness of SMEs
and large companies. It also encourages more
social and environmental responsibility from the
corporate sector at a time when the crisis has
damaged consumer confidence and the levels of
trust in business».
2.3. Other International CSR
If we focus on a wider international framework,
the European Commission (2011) includes at
the mentioned report two main ideas: to focus
on internationally recognized CSR principles
and guidelines and, also, the implementation of
the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Hu-
man Rights.
The international CSR guidelines are mostly
provided to large companies, which are encou-
raged to make a commitment by 2014 to take
account of at least one of the international prin-
ciples when implementing their CSR activities.
The international institutions that propose them
are OECD (OECD Guidelines for Multi-national
Enterprises), United Nations (the ten principles
of UN Global Compact and also the United Na-
tions Guiding Principles on Business and Hu-
man Rights), ISO (the ISO 26000 Guidance
Standard on Social Responsibility), and ILO (Tri-
partite Declaration of Principles Concerning
Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy).
In addition, the EC report (2011) deals with
the necessity of implementing the United Na-
tions Guiding Principles on Business and Human
Rights, which cover three pillars: the State duty
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to respect human rights; the corporate responsi-
bility to respect human rights; and the need for
access to effective remedy. The CSR field is beco-
ming wider with new matters such as core labour
standards, child labour, human trafficking, gen-
der equality, non-discrimination, freedom in as-
sociation and the right to collective bargaining.
Moreover, The European Commission find
the fact of promoting respect for social and envi-
ronmental factors as a drive for better governan-
ce and inclusive growth in developing countries,
within co-operation teams which would be held
by employee volunteering, as an example.
The above mentioned European CSR Awards
are not the only CSR Awards initiative to appre-
ciate achievements. November 2014 will be the
new deadline of the PR News CSR Awards. This
recognition initiative has been created by PR
News Group, an American communication group.
The Awards´ categories are: CSR Campaign;
Community Affairs; Corporate-Community Part-
nership; Corporation with between 1,000 and
10,000 employees (overall leader in CSR Practi-
ces); Corporation with between 10,000 and
25,000 employees; Corporation with less than
1,000 employees and Corporation with more
than 25,000 employees; CSR on a Shoestring;
CSR Professional of the year; Diversity Commu-
nications; Employee relations; Employee Volun-
teer Program; Environmental Stewardship; Event:
CSR/Green Focus; Facebook Communication
Campaign; Hall of fame; Human Rights Commu-
nications; Media Relations; Nonprofit/Corporate
Partnership; Philanthropy Communications; Pro
Bono Campaign; Product Design/Redesign; Re-
cycling Program; Social Good; Social Media
Campaign; Stakeholder Engagement; Supplier/
Vendor Partner of the Year; Sustainability/CSR
Report; Twitter Communications; Video initiati-
ves; Volunteer Programme; and Workplace Inno-
Without doubt, the wide selection of catego-
ries at these Awards, 36 in total, allow the parti-
cipants to choose very different communicative
situations as well as diverse issues of the CSR
process. The emphasizing of CSR campaign´s
goals and their achievements increases the op-
portunities of winning one of the rewards.
Recently, another CSR Award has announced
its winners of the VI edition: the ones from the
Internal Communication and Corporate Identity
Communication Observatory (El Observatorio
de la Comunicación Interna Anuncia los Premios
de la Edición 2014, 14/7/2014). The promoters
are Inforpress, IE Business School and Capital
Humano, and there have been candidates from
74 out of 54 enterprises. The prizes are recogni-
sing CSR best cases, internal communication and
corporate identity actions in 2013. The best prac-
tice of this year on Internal Communication in
CSR has been the project «Diversity in Deutsche»
by Deutsche Bank (the creation of a Diversity De-
partment which has encouraged their employees
into an inclusive environment framework).
3. Basis for a future CSR
Communication Model
In this complex context a balanced Corporate
Social Responsibility Communication Model in
the period 2014-2020 is necessary in order to
work between ethics and effectiveness, and en-
sure «conscience and consciousness», not only
in enterprises, but also in social organisations. A
Communication Model will help to bridge the
educational and communicative CSR gap bet-
ween the business sector and the non-business
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This article would be the perfect framework
to share not only this gap but also the professio-
nal expertise of communicators on both sides.
The search and share of possible solutions to-
gether will enrich the process.
To analyse the communication gap in Corpo-
rate Responsibility between companies and so-
cial organizations means to study these two di-
fferent corporate cultures and their languages, so
as to unify them in a new framework with a
«common language». Within this new fra-
mework, the social projects will be covered by a
higher quality communication policy, with the
support of the companies that are seeking for a
better reputation.
This article let us identify the key improve-
ment factors of the CSR communication mana-
gement in the business field and also in the
Third Sector, social agents and humanitarian
organisations. The creation of a more effective
positioning of each of the participants, and the
co-ordination programs will avoid duplications
among enterprises, institutions, non-profit orga-
nisations and NGOs.
The key study object for a CSR communica-
tion matter is to analyse the process held by the
communicator/»sender» (business or non-busi-
ness organizations) who communicates a CSR
message (responsibility, ethical, human rights,
etc.) to a «receiver» (see Chart 2), through a me-
dium, in a determined context and with some
high or low results, in terms of communication.
The most important stages of the CSR process
can be found in the following chapter (3.1, see
Chart nº 1).
3.1. CSR Communication Process
The CSR Communication Process includes, as a
management process of an intangible asset (Tru-
ñó & Rialp, 2007: 163), at least, six stages that
are explained in the following chart:
Chart nº 1- Main stages of CSR Communication Process (Mazo, M.E).
CSR Communication Process
1. The Communicator («The Sender»): business and non-business organizations
ommunication objectives & target groups («The Receiver»)
he Strategic Message: main contents: economy, social and environmental (Rivero, 2005:81)
egic Communication Plan: internal, intermediate and external programs
egic Media
valuation of communication eects
CSR Communication Process
he Communicator ( «The sender»): business and non-business organisations
ey factor: credibility
ey factor: leadership of the managers
Identify with accurac
y the communication objectives and the target groups
ommunication as a strategic tool into the management policies
e. Participation of all the sta
oherence with CSR activities
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2. Communication objectives & target groups. Receivers.
Communication objectives:
o create a common CSR reference framework
o communicate the CSR culture: to spread the CSR values in the Society, to create awareness, inform and educate.
i. To boost and promote CSR activities, as a transversal strategic issue.
o improve the level of trust both in business and non-business organisations: to create a responsible brand.
Target groups: see Chart nº 2 (CSR receivers´ involvement in Business & non-business organizations).
3. The Strategic Message: main contents
esponsible values: social & environmental
l. Integrate ethics into management
ommitment with Human Rights Policies
n. Sustainability
ocial cohesion: labor, employment, and integration of disabled persons…
p. Transparency
q. Competitiveness
esponsible Consumption
ommunity Development
t. Cooperation
u. Volunteering
4. Strategic Communication Plan (see Chart nº 2)
nternal Communication Program: actions for internal target groups
ntermediate Communication Program: actions for intermediate target groups
ternal Communication Program: actions for external target groups
5. Strategic Media: the best Media-mix
y. To select the best Media-mix to fulll the communication objectives
· CSR Report into the Annual Report: management tool
· Public Relations techniques: events, awards, etc.
· Advertisement techniques
· Media Relations
· Videos
· Web 2.0: Blogs, Social Media –LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter, etc.-
· Sponsorship
· Community Aairs Campaign
· Institutional Relations
6. Evaluation of Communication Eects: intangible measurement, circular process
valuation of the message eects: message attention, understanding, retention, and remembrance.
valuation of the nal eects: in terms of trust, condence, reputation, CSR values, fulllment of objectives.
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The Final report means the feed-back and the
«briefing» for the next Communication Cam-
paign: the process begins again.
3.2. Basis for a CSR level of involvement
The analysis of Chart 1- should be completed
with a study of CSR level of involvement in the
two different environments by the two types of
communicators or senders: enterprises (large
ones and SMEs) and non-business organisa-
tions. Through the three communication areas
(internal, intermediate and external) the diffe-
rent target groups show their level of involve-
ment in relation to each sender: high, medium
and low. The content of the Chart has been ela-
borated with the reports analysed in this paper
and with the author´s expertise (more than
twenty years) as a communication consultant.
The next steps are to gather other professio-
nal opinions from the involved agents, check the
below data with a multi-stakeholder opinion re-
search, and set the future CSR Communication
Model 2014-2020.
Chart nº 2- CSR level of targets involvement in the two environments (Mazo, M.E).
Level of involvement in CSR strategy: High=H; Medium= M; Low= L
Communic area & Target Group
Level of CSR involvement
Non-Business Organiz.
Level of CSR involvement
Large Co. SMEs Large Org. Small/m Org.
Comm. Target. Group:
· CEO H M -
· M
anagers H M H L
· Senior Exec H M H L
· Junior Exec. M L H L
· Volunteers - - H M
· Trainees M L -
Comm.Target Group:
· Shar
eholders H M
· Suppliers M L M L
· Collaborators H M M L
· Associations H H H H
· Trade Unions H L H L
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4. Conclusions
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities
are «suffering» a gap in the communication con-
text and language between business (which
need social organisations to undertake social res-
ponsible programs in order to gain reputation
and trust) and non-business organizations
(which need enterprises´ help to finance their
social programs). We must research and debate
the communicative features of both situations to
help bridge the gap mentioned, moreover if we
bear in mind that today the international institu-
tions are setting the CSR Strategy for 2014-2020.
The features of this gap and its communica-
tion context have been studied in this article. But
also the subject has been analysed by the Euro-
pean framework of CSR activities, as well as by
other international initiatives. From the «CSR 30
golden rules for SMEs» published by Forética
(2013), (on which 50% of the rules were com-
municative), to the «Multi-sectorial Study of the
CSR State in the Spanish Large Enterprise»,
shown by Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad
(2014), (where the large enterprise have appro-
ved the CSR «exam»), the fact is that the Euro-
pean Commission (2011) ensures that only 15
Level of involvement in CSR strategy: High=H; Medium= M; Low= L
Communic area & Target Group Enterprises
Level of CSR involvement
Non-Business Organiz.
Level of CSR involvement
Large Co. SMEs Large Org. Small/m Org.
Comm.Target Group:
· Clients/users M L M L
· P
ublic Administ.
· International H H H M
· European H H H M
· National Gov H H H M
· Regional G. H M H M
· Local Gov M-L L M L
· Industry and Professional Ass H H H H
· Social Civil Org H H H H
· Consumer Ass H H H H
· Media/Press H M H M
· Opinion leaders/experts H H H H
· Public Opinion/Citizens L L M L
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of 27 EU members have a national policy plan to
promote CSR. The EC efforts to create and boost
multi-stakeholders dialogue are huge, but SMEs
often communicate informally and the Corpora-
te Register (2011) identifies only about 2,500
European companies that publish CSR or sustai-
nable reports, among the existing 42,000 large
European enterprises. The number of firms that
have done the job is, therefore, a very small per-
centage (5,95%). If we add the European SMEs
to the total, the impact of CSR activities in Euro-
pe companies is even lower.
As a following step it has been shown a sche-
me (Chart nº 1) with the stages of CSR commu-
nication process, with the communicator/ «sen-
der» (business or non-business organisations)
who communicates a «CSR message» (responsi-
bility, ethical, human rights, etc.) to a «receiver»
(see Chart 2), through out a «medium», in a
determined «context» and with some high or
low «effects», in terms of communication.
The process has been completed with a study
of the CSR «receiver» level of involvement (Chart
2) by the two types of communicators or «sen-
ders»: enterprises (large companies and SMEs)
and non-business organisations (large and small).
In the three corporate communication areas (in-
ternal, intermediate and external) different target
groups («receivers») show their level of involve-
ment in CSR issues in relationship to each «sen-
der». The CSR communicative gap arises with
the comparison of the involvement values of the
two different environments: clearly, the lower le-
vel of involvement is found mostly in non-busi-
ness organizations and SMEs.
The next steps are to listen to other commu-
nication professionals from the different in-
volved agents, to check the above data with a
multi-stakeholder opinion research, and set
the future CSR Communication Model 2014-
2020 with the final results of the Study.
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