French Companies have an Edge in CSR Reporting Online

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The survey shows that French companies have an edge in presenting CSR related information but overall French Companies have some way to go, in order to reach up to European Best Practice standard. French companies in general are lacking information about corporate governance and contact information, areas that are highly valued by the target group. France as a country has on the other hand increased their score since last year, from 47,5 to 49,1. This signs that French companies are improving their online communication

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A lot of the top scorers in our survey are large industrial companies

The survey shows that French companies have an edge in presenting CSR related information but overall French Companies have some way to go, in order to reach up to European Best Practice standard. French companies in general are lacking information about corporate governance and contact information, areas that are highly valued by the target group. France as a country has on the other hand increased their score since last year, from 47,5 to 49,1. This signs that French companies are improving their online communication

The aerospace and defence giant Eads wins the H&H Webranking 2007 France for the second year in a row, with a score of 65.25 out of 100 points. On second place we find the constructing and building company Lafarge with 61.75 points and AXA with 61 points takes the bronze.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COUNTRIES
French companies are somewhat below the European average, 49.1 compared to 51.2 (total Europe average of 630 companies).

The low French average is partly due a large number of companies scoring only around average. If you compare this to Germany, were there is only 8 German websites that receives a score under 50.

French companies lag behind their European peers, when it comes to their international approach, which is not at the same level as many of the Western European company websites reviewed. One explanation for the low average is the fact that the French companies suffer from the inability to supply information in English. The bottom line is that they need to address the information in English, in able to attract foreign capital. It is also important to keep in mind that the Internet is a global communication channel, and the global language is English.

There are examples where mixed language is an issue, with the English language version of the website not containing the same level of content as the French version of the website do.

"All of the Western European companies reviewed in the survey would consider themselves international businesses and their websites reflect this fact. If French businesses want to compete on an equal footing for international attention and investment, this is an issue that needs to be addressed", says Marcus Eriksson, Head of Webranking, Hallvarsson & Halvarsson.

Also the lack of a clear market leader could be a reason. Only one French company (EADS) is on the Europe top 50 (Place 40). Since the beginning of H&H webranking we have seen the importance of a clear leader when it comes to influence and affect the online communication medium. Companies need a national leader in order to benchmark and develop their website. We think that the corporate website as a communication channel is not a top priority in France.

WHAT ABOUT SECTORS?
Traditionally, the heavy industry sectors have produced the best investor websites. Older, established companies are used to communicating with their target audience and therefore historically simply switched to reaching them through online communication, whereas the retail sector with companies like H&M and Carrefour are better at reaching their customers than their investors.

"A lot of the top scorers in our survey are large industrial companies", comments Marcus Eriksson. "Companies in the technology sectors should be able to use the Internet and show that they can handle the medium. Many retail companies are good at communicating with their customers but not as effective to communicate with their investors."

CSR
An area that has gained more attention this year is Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR. The total score regarding CSR information in H&H Webranking have increased with 30 per cent as an answer to the demand from the capital market. France holds the crown, followed by Spain. We believe that this is a great advantage since CSR is becoming more important. The amount of capital invested in ethical companies has increased, which means investors and fund managers request this information more often. Even sellside analysts are now interested in CSR. The reason behind this development is partly because CSR has become integrated in many companies' strategies as a way of assessing risk. It is also far more measurable, which is what analysts need.

"Companies in sensitive sectors such as oil, tobacco and alcohol have been early adopters in communicating their CSR activities. With the rise of campaigning on environmental and health issues, and the flourishing new world of blogging, these companies need to address what is said about them elsewhere as well", says Marcus Eriksson.
CSR is also high on the agenda, with the environment as a popular topic, and the top scorers in this category are companies with controversial products, such as the tobacco giant BAT (British American Tobacco) or oil companies such as Shell.

DO FRENCH COMPANIES RESPOND TO QUESTIONS RECEIVED BY E-MAIL?
Every year, the H&H Webranking team submits an e-mail inquiry to all companies which is a practical e-mail test, asking for the date of the next company report. The results of this year's e-mail test reveal that the waiting-time for responses from French companies was considerably low. We gave the companies 48 hours to respond a simple question. 56 per cent of the French companies didn´t score at all compared to 34 percent of all European companies. We beleive this is alarming for any company that aim to communicate and serve their shareholder, journalist and analysts.

H&H Webranking Method
The evaluation is based on criteria which are updated every year to account for new trends in web communications as well as emerging user requirements. The research is based on a survey of analysts, investors and business journalists.

This year's new criteria were introduced in sections such as corporate governance (i.e. whistle blowing) and copy editing (i.e. paragraph structure and clear labelling).

About H&H Webranking
H&H Webranking is Europe's leading survey of corporate websites. It has been conducted annually since 1997. Each year approximately 700 websites are reviewed. Results are published in financial newspapers around Europe.

All the details of the ranking, research and the library of best practices are available to order through our website.

Please visit our website to order your copy today: Order H&H Webranking reports!

About Hallvarsson & Halvarsson
Hallvarsson & Halvarsson AB (H&H) is the leading corporate communications and financial communications agency in the Nordics with approximately 100 consultants. Through it's H&H Webranking survey and Online Corporate Communications research and advisory services a leader in Europe with a significant number of Euro Top 500 companies as clients.

Services offered includes:

Corporate communications

  • Public Affairs
  • Crisis management
  • CSR Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Media Relations
  • Corporate websites
  • Web consulting
  • H&H Webranking
  • Financial reports
  • Investor Relations
  • Transactions
  • Corporate Design

and with niche products such as IR Manager, a CRM system tailored for IR Officers

More information:
H&H Webranking

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