As Volkswagen contends with a reputational crisis of epic proportions much of the focus has been on how it needs to manage the fallout from its emissions cheating scandal. While dissecting a crisis communications strategy for Volkswagen best practices makes for compelling theater, this incident is an opportune reminder for corporate leaders to focus on something much more mundane: the critical importance of accurate data in a sustainability (or CSR) report.
Volkswagen is an illustrative example: Volkswagen built a reputation as a responsible company committed to producing vehicles that emitted fewer harmful emissions than the competition’s. Its diesel cars were the centerpiece in that narrative. Consumers purchased Volkswagen’s diesel powered cars because they liked driving a sporty and fun vehicle that was assumed to be not terribly harmful to the environment.