What Is Greenblushing? (2023)

Rethink 2023

Next month, Eight Public Relations will participate in Rethink HK 2023, an important sustainable business forum, as a solution sponsor (so far, we are the only PR agency in Hong Kong to be a paid-up exhibitor).

In this blog post, we took a look at greenblushing.

Greenblushing is the term used to describe companies implementing environmentally responsible initiatives but failing to promote their achievements.

This can be because of a fear of being associated with greenwashing, which involves making false claims about environmental initiatives.

However, greenblushing can hinder transparency and effective communication with stakeholders. And the public.

Key Takeaways

  • Greenblushing happens when companies implement eco-friendly practices but cannot communicate their commitment and actions effectively.
  • It is the opposite of greenwashing, where companies make exaggerated claims about their environmental initiatives.
  • Challenges with greenblushing include a lack of transparency, poor communication with stakeholders, and potential underestimation of a company's environmental efforts.

What Is Greenblushing?

Greenblushing occurs when companies engage in sustainable practices and ethical decisions without publicizing their efforts.

Reasons for greenblushing include:

  1. Fear of being accused of greenwashing or exaggerating green credentials
  2. Concerns about revealing competitive information or trade secrets
  3. Worries about setting high expectations and not meeting them
  4. A desire to downplay environmental efforts to avoid appearing self-congratulatory
  5. Attracting unwanted attention

Indicators of greenblushing include:

• Limited or scarce information on sustainability efforts

• Lack of engagement with stakeholders on environmental and social issues

• No clear communication about commitment to corporate ethics

Greenblushing vs Greenwashing

These terms may sound similar, but they have distinct meanings.

Greenwashing involves companies making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of their products or practices.

This deceptive tactic can lead consumers to believe they are making eco-friendly choices, when, in reality, they are not.

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Greenblushing occurs when a company is genuinely taking steps to be environmentally responsible but chooses not to actively promote or market these efforts.

Corporate Communication and Perception

It is essential to understand the dynamics between corporate communication and stakeholder perception in order to avoid both greenwashing and greenblushing.

Your goal is to create a balance in the messages you convey, ensuring credibility and alignment
with your organization's actual sustainability practices.

Here are some key aspects to consider when crafting your sustainability communications.

Be open and honest about your company's sustainability initiatives, sharing both successes and challenges.

It's important to maintain consistent messaging across all communication channels; both internally and externally.

Cut out the marketing spiel and use straightforward language to describe your sustainability efforts.

Engage with your stakeholders regularly to understand their perceptions and expectations; this can help identify areas where your communications may be falling short

Environmental Initiatives

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While greenblushing may appear contradictory to the growing demand for transparency and accountability in sustainability, many companies choose to keep their environmental initiatives private.

There is another reason companies sometimes prefer to keep their environmental investments quiet, and that's because the resources required to announce, inform and tell are deployed to promote the products and services offered by the company to generate revenue.

Listed Companies and New Issuer, SME Requirements

Starting from January 2022, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange required all listed companies and new stock issuers to provide information about their ESG efforts. From 2026, this will be extended further.

In this South China Morning Post story, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council is working with Dun & Bradstreet to help SME gain ESG credentials.

Like it or not, there will be a need for all businesses to make more noise about their environmental practices rather than mention in passing or park in the depths of their website.

Employee Engagement

Let's not forget about employees.

Training will be required to enhance their knowledge and skills on sustainability matters, and to champion the company's sustainability efforts.

Where Do We Go From Here?

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Greenblushing is characterized by an organization's minimal or non-existent information sharing, leading to a potential underrepresentation or disregard for its actions and commitment towards environmental and social responsibility.

Unlike greenwashing, where companies overstate their environmental contributions, greenblushing involves remaining silent on these matters.

Companies falling into the greenblushing category may want to consider these steps:

  1. Evaluate your existing sustainability initiatives: Understand your company's current position regarding environmental and social responsibility.
  2. Set clear and reachable objectives: Establish workable goals for improving sustainable practices.
  3. Promote regular and open communication: Regularly update stakeholders about the progress made towards achieving the set goals, thereby showing commitment and responsibility.
  4. Encourage external verification: Pursue third-party evaluations or certifications, thereby boosting credibility and authenticity.

By proactively addressing greenblushing and promoting transparent communication about your company's sustainability efforts, you can strike a balance that showcases your dedication.

Eight Public Relations' global network of professional providers include sustainability experts.

Eight PR's team of seasoned PR professionals specialize in working with technology, financial services, and legal clients to help them stand out from the competition.

From media relations to content development, corporate reputation management to thought leadership programmes, and digital communications, we've got you covered. Our goal is simple: to empower your business with all things PR and help you succeed.



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