20 September 2021

Marion Banide

The crucial role of corporate communications for a company in transition

Deadly floods and infernal heatwaves, inextinguishable fires, and appalling human rights abuses: it is hard to find reasons to rejoice when everything seems to go down the drain. For the younger generations who live with the threat of global warming hanging over their heads, angst is high.

Who to look up to for advice, for guidance, for hope even? Public mistrust towards governments and some industries is widespread. Recent corporate scandals have brought discredit on many industries (automotive, pharmaceuticals, energy, banking, food processing), damaging their reputations and questioning their ability to operate for the greater good. Yet, some of the same industries that have come under heavy fire are also a critical part of the solution. Their in-depth transformation is essential to meet our societies’ sustainability objectives.

Corporate communications will support your company’s growth and transformation

Companies today are expected to communicate about their role in society at large and to express their convictions. The very definition of corporate performance and profitability is changing – creating wealth is not enough if it means destroying the planet at the same time. The growing interest of institutional investors for ESG and responsible investment opportunities clearly show a shift in decision making. We see some of the most respectable pension funds divesting from fossil and armful industries fuels (also called brown investments) to focus on renewable energy and clean technologies.

This is where corporate communications can be a powerful ally to support a company’s transition into this new course of action. Corporate communications cover a set of internal and external communication activities led by a private or public organisation (a company, an association, an NGO, a trade body, etc.) to present itself to the external world and achieve recognition amongst its corporate audiences. Corporate communication helps maintain a positive reputation and bridge the gap between employees, management, and customers. The job of corporate communication is to bring the outside world in. Outline the context in which the organization operates. And advise on how to act on it.

State your case & anchor your business in reality

It is no longer about “talk the talk” but “ walk the walk”. Corporate communications are diversifying and complexifying; no longer focusing solely on financial and economic performance but addressing environmental and social challenges. Companies are expected to look beyond their operations and show transparency and willingness to engage on some of today’s most challenging themes.

The good old “logos ethos pathos” trilogy is still very relevant and should underpin every communication effort. Corporate communications should resort to reason and logic, using objective and sound facts, case studies and academic research. They should build on your credibility to gain trust and be seen as a thought leader. They should help you engage with your key audiences by acknowledging and showing a clear understanding of their concerns and respond to them in a clear and honest manner.

Companies need to be transparent about their dilemmas and their ambitions without falling into the greenwashing trap or overdoing it. They should also reflect reality – at a time when information is within reach, corporate communications should lean on hard facts, data, research. Be consistent and reflect the variety of your operations.

Leave a long-lasting mark and help build tomorrow’s future

One of the overshadowed conclusions of the latest GIEC report says that there is hope to go below the 1.5-degree threshold by the end of the century if we give up on the idea of gross domestic product and promote climate justice. With the so-called SPP1 scenario, for “shared social economic pathway 1”, we will not stop climate change, but we can protect ourselves against it, by building a more inclusive, social ecological protection. The SPP1 scenario makes human wellbeing and the reduction of social inequalities the two pillars of development instead of economic growth. [1]

Would the new course of actions lead companies to make difficult choices? Undoubtedly. Some corporate decisions will have operational and financial costs but denying reality will have far greater consequences. This new status quo should help channel energy into projects that can make people dream again. Companies have a responsibility in driving change, and what’s better that a good story to rally people and get the support companies need to achieve their objectives and leave a long-lasting influence on their industry?

[1] This “climate narrative”, finalized in January 2017, explicitly involves abandoning the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) as a collective horizon and as a compass for public policies, given its correlation with greenhouse gas emissions and overexploitation of natural resources.


Are you operating in an industry at the forefront of innovation that needs to get traction from investors, the business community, or the public? Is your organisation striving to adapt to the new course of play, and wants to communicate further about its latest achievements?

If you are wondering how to run more efficient corporate communications that better reflect your commitments to a more inclusive and sustainable society, please contact us.

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20 September 2021

Marion Banide

hague corporate affairs

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