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Too many companies make false claims about their social impact

In the field of business communication, the gap between stated intentions and observable actions is often large. This crisis of authenticity raises sharp questions about the best way to define corporate social responsibility and their impact.

Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unilever and PepsiCo, for example, all profess their commitment to a sustainable future, while at the same time earning the dubious distinction of being among the world’s “worst plastic polluters,” according to the global movement Break Free from Plastic. Last year, Coca-Cola again topped the environmental group’s annual ranking of which company products pollute the most countries with the most waste – a position the company has held for six years in a row.

These companies are not the only ones caught in this paradox. By 2023, there was a 40% increase in the number of Forbes Global 2000 companies pledging to become net zero, but many lack clear plans to achieve their stated goals and some have even gone back on their pledges.

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