Socially responsible investing has definitely evolved as it now represents around $2.7 trillion of the United States' $25 trillion investment industry according to Social Investment Forum.   More investors recognize and understand how social, environmental and governance issues impact businesses' shareholder value, and they expect companies to be transparent about them. 

That's why last week, members of Dell's sustainability and communications teams attended Ceres 2010:  Roadmap for a Sustainable Future.  At this conference, Ceres brings together companies, investors, environmentalists and other stakeholders to integrate sustainable solutions into business strategy and build long-term shareholder value.

Dell leveraged this gathering to engage stakeholders, including the Ceres staff.  We asked more than 20 investors, customers, environmentalists and other NGOs to provide frank feedback on two topics that are central to how we communicate on corporate responsibility issues.  Those topics were:

  • Can social media drive stakeholder engagement?
  • Are we sharing enough corporate responsibility information, in the right format, at the right frequency?

Some of the feedback collected at this session included the following:

  1. Take a public position on things that matter to you as a company
  2. When Dell talks about the social projects funded, be specific about how that project drove positive change
  3. Be open about your challenges and roadblocks, even if it means backing up from what you committed to
  4. Consider an integrated report and add more Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) data in to the 10K
  5. A biannual process for disclosure is good and stakeholders appreciate notification of major developments

This type of feedback and outside perspective helps us improve.  We also launched an IdeaStorm Storm Session at the Ceres conference to get ideas and opinions on how to better engage through our reporting.   There's still an opportunity to provide feedback so please join the Storm Session today through May 17 to give your feedback.