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PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Eric Whan
Tel: +1-416-969-2776
Fax: +1-416-920-3510
E-mail: eric.whan@GlobeScan.com
Website: www.GlobeScan.com


GUESS WHAT? PEOPLE DO READ CSR REPORTS

CSR Reports Find Audience among General Public According to International Poll

Toronto, 22 April, 2004
– Consumers in North America, Europe, and Australia are consulting corporate social and environmental reports more commonly than originally thought, reveals a recent international survey conducted by GlobeScan Inc. (formerly Environics International).

According to the poll, half of the general public in North America, Australia, and some parts of Europe say they have either read a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report themselves, briefly looked at one, or heard about one from someone else. “We did not expect to see that an audience for CSR reports does exist among the general public,” says Chris Coulter, Director of CSR Research at GlobeScan. “The reports are generally not intended for the general public, but rather for investors, stakeholders and people who are specifically looking for such information.”

He also points out that Opinion Leaders — people who are the most likely to be engaged in and speak out on corporate issues — are twice as likely as the general public to say they have looked at a report, suggesting that even more people will be reading these reports in the future.

And among those who are aware of CSR reports, majorities in most countries say that reading or hearing about a report improved their impression of the company, led them to buy the company's products, or speak positively about the company to others. According to Coulter, the publication of a CSR report can impact corporate reputation and the bottom line, particularly if reports are tailored for and made available to the general public. “These corporate social reports are the new corporate communications,” says Coulter. “They are becoming an important communication technique for companies in our “show me” world.”

Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative based in Amsterdam, says, “These findings are evidence of the impressive progress made in developing a global CSR reporting movement with international standards. I am encouraged to see such a relatively large audience for something that did not even formally exist just five years ago.”

Coulter also believes that these findings have important implications. “Thus far, the conventional wisdom has been that the general consumer is not a target audience for CSR reporting,” he says. “Our research not only suggests that the general public is a potential target audience, but that these reports may also be an influential way for companies to communicate their commitment to CSR, ultimately leading to better reputation and increased market share.”

These questions were fielded as part of GlobeScan’s 2004 Corporate Social Responsibility Monitor survey. Face-to-face or telephone interviews were conducted with approximately 1,000 respondents in each of 21 countries, between December 2003 and February 2004. At the country level, results are accurate to within +/- 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. The full report will be available to subscribers in Spring 2004.



GlobeScan Incorporated
GlobeScan, formerly Environics International, is the largest provider of international public opinion research on global issues and corporate social responsibility. For more information about our syndicated and custom research services, or about the contents of this press release, please contact Mr. Eric Whan at the co-ordinates at the top of this document.

Global Reporting Initiative
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. These Guidelines are for voluntary use by organizations for reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services. GRI incorporates the active participation of representatives from business, accountancy, investment, environmental, human rights, research and labor organizations from around the world. Started in 1997, GRI became independent in 2002, and is an official collaborating centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

For more information on GRI, please contact:

Ms. Alyson Slater
Associate Director, Communications
Global Reporting Initiative
Tel: +31-20-531-0000
Fax: +31-20-531-0031
Email: slater@globalreporting.org
Website: http://www.globalreporting.org/