A company’s commitment to sustainability, and its efforts to communicate about and deliver on that commitment, are among the more significant drivers of public confidence, according to research from Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

The survey results showed a clear link between corporate communications around sustainability efforts and corporate performance and reputation. Among the key findings:
• 91 percent of respondents said they believe that it was important for corporations to behave sustainably in 2013 and beyond, and that such behavior was critical to companies’ long-term success;
• 81 percent believe companies should report on their sustainability efforts on an ongoing basis rather than through a static report;
• 82 percent believe that a company can regain public trust through an honest and transparent reporting of its efforts to be more sustainable, even if that reporting highlights where it falls short of its goals; and
• 84 percent believe greater visibility into corporate sustainability efforts will increase trust in a company.

The firm says the goal of corporate sustainability is to manage the environmental, economic and social effects of a corporation’s operations so it is profitable over the long-term while acting in a responsible manner to society.

“The takeaway is that corporations that report citizenship activities can gain a higher level of public trust and greater license to operate,” says Robert Ludke, H+K Strategies senior vice president and head of the firm’s governance and sustainability practice. “Conversely, companies that report very little face a growing risk that incomplete disclosure is seen as an effort to deliberatively hide poor corporate governance and subpar operations.”