Danaher : Sidelining sustainability

A sparse corporate social responsibility page would benefit from stories and data currently confined to the CSR report.

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The feature

Danaher, a US-based medical and industrial diagnostics conglomerate, has a single page on its corporate website devoted to corporate social responsibility (CSR). A set of bullet points outlines the company’s approach in broad strokes, eg, ‘improve quality of life through innovation’ and ‘promote responsible environmental stewardship’. A second paragraph essentially serves as an introduction to the Danaher CSR report: ‘The breadth and depth of stories highlighted in our 2014-2015 CSR Report really speak to that history, and you will see examples of our responsibility in action.’ The 20-page PDF report, Danaher’s first, is available for download on the page via a clickable image of the front cover.

The takeaway

Those determined to find evidence of Danaher’s CSR performance should find their way to the report PDF fairly easily. But by leaving the CSR page virtually empty of content, Danaher is missing two opportunities – to better summarise and signpost relevant information in the report for specialists, and to communicate the company’s messages to more casual consumers of sustainability content such as customers, business partners and jobseekers who may not want to download the PDF.

Although the amount of data in the report is thin relative to top performers in CSR reporting, Danaher does provide figures on aggregate energy and water consumption and recycling rates for 2013, and these could be featured on the page. There are also two interesting ‘stories’ in the report about near-100% recycling rates at two manufacturing facilities in Ireland and Japan that could be signposted or housed on the page.

Moving beyond the interests of CSR-specific stakeholders, there are other reputation-building stories about how Danaher’s products are used to purify water supplies and aid scientists in monitoring environmental changes in seawater. Other companies, such as Siemens and Shell, use these kinds of stories more widely on their corporate websites – including signposting from the home page – to introduce the company to jobseekers and customers.

Perhaps Danaher will move in this direction for subsequent reports (evidence from elsewhere on the corporate website suggests it may be a work in progress). At the moment however, by using its website only as a rather bland signpost to the PDF, Danaher is passing up a chance to make valuable sustainability content more visible. 

First published 14 January, 2015
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