Sustainable Development and CSR as Long-Term Strategic Issues for Communications

Lecture 2 - NORA online Lecture Series

  • Starts:11:30, 21 August 2020
  • Ends:12:30, 21 August 2020
  • Location:Zoom
  • Contact:#NORA (nora@bi.no )

The Nordic Alliance for Communication & Management (#NORA)SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CSR AS LONG-TERM STRATEGIC CONCERNS FOR ORGANIZATIONS: The Role of the Communication Department

Dealing with sustainable development and social responsibility is one of the most important strategic challenges for European communicators, according to the 2020 European Communication Monitor.  This has not always been the case as fewer than 16% found these issues important just five years ago. The all-time high interest in sustainability issues by communicators was recorded just following the financial crisis in 2009.

Does this mean that communicators only find sustainability and social responsibility important when there is a crisis? If so, this is no longer a defensible attitude; organizations are reeling from the impact of the coronavirus and the glaring social issues made visible in its wake. Around the globe, people are protesting against corporations greenwashing, ignoring worker rights, not addressing equity in the workplace, advertising promoting stereotypes, and not reducing their environmental foot print. Activism is becoming more organized and reaching more impact through social media.

Because of Covid-19, firms are revisiting their purpose, decisions and the impacts they have on society.  The media is full of examples of organizations righting policies that they have either ignored or just not thought about. People are looking to both the public and private sectors for recovery and this means being more than just profit-driven.

Often, the only way people have to judge organizations is how they profile and brand themselves. This includes communicating their positions as environmentally friendly, as inclusive, or as a great place to work in a way that builds trust and is action oriented.  If the public does not know what organizations are doing, they will judge them harshly. Communicating what an organization does to its stakeholders is not only important, it is essential for an organization’s survival. 

This second lecture in our lecture series looks at the role of the communication function when it comes to sustainability and social responsibility.  Key themes include stakeholder inclusion, dialogue, building an authentic brand, and the influence of the communication function within the organization. Two communication directors, Ulrike Hauge from DNV GL and Joséphine Edwall from Essity will share their stories of how their business organizations attend to sustainability through communication.

Panelists: Ulrike Haugen, Chief Communication Officer, DNV GL; Prof Catrin Johansson (Mid Sweden University); Prof Peggy Brønn (BI Norwegian Business School); Joséphine Edwall Bjorklund, SVP, Group Function Communications at Essity.


Ulrike Haugen

Ulrike Haugen, Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer of DNV GL Group, the leading international quality assurance and risk management company, and member of DNV GL Group’s Executive Committee. She has more than 15 years of Communications, Marketing and Business Development experience within international corporations with positions in Norway, UK, Germany and Italy. At DNV GL Group she has responsibility for Communications, Government and Public Affairs and Sustainability. Previously she held marketing and business development positions in international energy companies and law firms. Her industry experience includes the assurance, maritime, oil and gas, and energy sectors as well as substantial experience from the legal sector. Ulrike holds a law degree and an MBA.

Peggy Simcic Brønn

Peggy Simcic Brønn (Ph.D.) is Professor emerita in Communication and Management in the Norwegian Business School’s Institute for Communication and Culture. She has published extensively in for example Journal of Business Ethics, Corporate Communication: An International Journal, Journal of Marketing Communication, Business and Society Review, International Journal of Advertising, and Corporate Reputation Review, to name a few. Dr. Brønn is on the editorial board of several international journals and is an associate editor of Journal of Communication Management. Her books include (in Norwegian) Communication for Organizations and Leaders (Fagbokforlaget), Transparent or Closed: Reputation Building for Organizations (Gyldendal) and (in English) Corporate Communication: A Strategic Approach to Building Reputation (Gyldendal).  She holds a DBA (doctor of business administration) from Henley Management College in the UK, an MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University and a BA in Journalism/PR from the University of Georgia.

Catrin Johansson

Catrin Johansson (Ph.D.) is professor in organizational communication at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall and research leader at the DEMICOM research centre. Currently she is also one of the university’s sustainability coordinators. Her current research focuses on communicative leadership, communication maturity of organizations, organizational change and sustainable development. She has led more than 20 large research projects, and received funding from e.g. the Swedish Knowledge Foundation and MSB – Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, as well as specific research projects for organizations and business corporations. She is the author and co-author of a number of books and reports in Swedish and international peer reviewed journal articles in journals such as Management Communication Quarterly, International Journal of Strategic Communication, Corporate Communications an International Journal and Public Relations Review. She served as a reviewer for the Organizational Communication, Environmental Communication and Public Relations Divisions of the International Communication Association, and is a member of ECREA and EUPRERA.

Joséphine Edwall Bjorklund

Joséphine Edwall Bjorklund serves as Senior Vice President, Group Function Communications at Essity, a global stock listed hygiene and health company known for leading brands like Tork, TENA, Libresse, Zewa and JOBST. She heads up all Group Communication Functions like Media Relations, Investor Relations, Internal Communications & Operations and Brand and Online Communications. Joséphine also heads global purpose-led activations and partnerships with organizations like United Nations Foundations, UNICEF and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. This includes educational programs to raise awareness on the importance of public and personal hygiene, taboos around menstruation and incontinence, advocating for women’s rights and supporting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Previously she held Executive Communications positions within the Information Communication and Technology, Forest Products and Consumer Goods industry. During her senior role at Ericsson (1991-2012) she was also Board member of Ericsson Response, a non-profit organization contributing to humanitarian relief work. Joséphine is a member of  the Executive Management Team in Essity and holds degrees and program certificates from the University of Jönköping, Stockholm School of Economics, Columbia University New York and IESE Business School Barcelona.


Lecture 3: Trends in Communication Ethics and Communicators’ Blindness to Ethical Issues
- 18 September 2020, 11:30-12:30 (CET)

Panelists: Prof Jesper Falkheimer (Lund University) & Suzanne van Gils (BI Norwegian Business School) including leading CCO/practitioners

Lecture 4: Public Sector Communication and new forms of Influence
- 2 November 2020, 17:00-18:00 (CET)

Panelists: Prof Gregor Halff (Copenhagen Business School), Prof Vilma Luoma-aho (Jyväskylä University) including leading CCO/practitioners

Lecture 5: Crisis Management, Crisis Communication, COVID-19 and the Nordic countries
- 19 November 2020, 11:30-12:30 (CET)

Panelists: Prof Finn Frandsen, Prof Winni Johansen, (Aarhus University) & Prof Jesper Falkheimer (Lund University) including leading CCO/practitioners


For further information please contact:
Sara Linvåg Næss: sara.l.nass@bi.no