NEW YORK—Hill & Knowlton has formalized a global area of specialization in corporate social responsibility, through which the firm will counsel companies on their CSR policies and programs, as well as offering communications and reporting support. The unit will be part of H&K’s worldwide corporate practice.

“Corporate social responsibility is of vital significance to corporations doing business around the world,” said Paul Taaffe, chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton. “It has become necessary for companies to understand that being responsible to their stakeholders and communities strengthens their ability to succeed.”

The new CSR unit draws on a number of Hill & Knowlton’s longstanding areas of expertise and expands on its established CSR work in Europe. The specialty will focus on providing strategic counsel and communications support to all parts of a comprehensive CSR program, including public outreach, internal communications, financial communications, community investment, public affairs, and environmental and CSR reporting.

Says Harlan Teller, who leads the corporate practice, “Transparency is the lubricant that helps to facilitate relationships between the corporation and its key stakeholders. Transparency strategies rely to a great extent on effective communications, and we intend to be preeminent in helping companies build and execute these strategies.

“Since CSR cuts across all aspects of a company’s core business and encompasses issues ranging from ethics and governance to environmental health and safety and strategic philanthropy, it’s important to be able to offer an equally broad range of CSR counsel to assist corporations with yet another element of corporate reputation that needs to be managed and enhanced.”

Hill & Knowlton’s global team of regional CSR specialists will be headed by Hope Ewing in Asia Pacific; Boyd Neil in Canada; Philippe Blanchard and James Hunt in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; Ana Gilligan in Latin America; and Eric Borsum in the United States.

“It is no longer enough to understand CSR in the context of one country,” says Borsum. “Social responsibility means something different in each country in which a company does business, and it is of paramount importance to be able to anticipate and respond to those cultural and geopolitical differences in crafting effective CSR programs.”