Opinion: Kenyan brands challenged to adopt transparent & externally verifiable sustainability measures instead of public relations 'gimmicks'

Author: Edward Mungai, Business Daily (Kenya), Published on: 13 February 2020

"PR gimmicks get you to a dead end in the sustainability journey"

... All the shifting sands of consumer tastes are moving towards healthier, ecofriendly goods and services amid personal and society challenges brought home by urbanisation and climate change. It’s for this reason that businesses are increasingly coming under pressure to embed sustainable practices in their value chains for the greater good of people and planet or at least be seen to be doing so. As such, communicating such measures with customers has taken a central place in promoting brands as responsible and caring.

Whether it’s through product labels, advertisements, company websites, public relations campaigns and sustainability reports, brands want to look good in their clients’ eyes. There’s always that temptation, however, to paint a more glamorous picture than the reality, making such a move a purely public relations exercise, otherwise known as green-washing within the sustainability circles. Firms might dishonestly report ecofriendly features they purport to have embraced or conveniently hide their dark, not-so-environmentally practices just to click with their audience. The business of optics and marketing spins cannot stand on its own and is far from sustainable...

Just like external auditors do due diligence before giving an expert opinion around their clients’ financial statements, there is need for firms to engage in external verification that will help in enhancing of the credibility of sustainability report and improves internal reporting processes.

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