CSR beds in as an essential ingredient to business performance

Sustainability is becoming more embedded into business operations - certainly among US firms where higher performing companies are more likely to have embraced CSR strategies, new research has found.

The study – a biennial research report from Boston College’s Centre for Corporate Citizenship – explored how the environmental, social, and governance dimensions of business are being managed across today’s wider business community, and how these practices have evolved over the past three years.

It found that when it comes to corporate citizenship, above-average industry performers are more likely to have a formal department set up for this purpose, a programme led at executive level, and higher budgets allocated for it.

There was also a trend for increased responsibility at the top, with almost 60% of the 231 companies surveyed now employing a dedicated professional at executive level to lead on the issue – a 74% increase over what was reported in 2010. In addition, close to one-third of CSR leaders were within one level of the chief executive.

More money is now being budgeted for corporate citizenship – the study found that almost 100% of companies had funds in place, compared to 81% in 2010 – with the chief executive is more involved in developing strategy, setting goals, and demonstrating leadership in this area.

Reputation enhancement was cited by the majority of firms as an important business goal attached to sustainability, followed by improving employee retention and recruitment, attracting new customers, and improving risk management.

According to Katherine Smith, executive director at the Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship, the findings highlight that CSR is now adding value to business models.

“These are all signs that CSR continues to be more deeply embedded in business as more executives realize that positive environmental, social and governance measures correlate to positive financial performance, improved reputation, and solid risk management,” she said.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie