CSR shining lights are being hidden

Social responsibility has become a priority for many companies, according to a new study published by a consultancy company. Of 120 senior managers surveyed, 88% were “actively and voluntarily seeking to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment”.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) focused predominantly on areas such as the workplace (82%), the environment (75%) and the local community (71%), although 61% of managers also cited ethics and 32% human rights, according to research by Springpoint Consultancy.

The main driving forces behind CSR were company culture (51%) and a desire to enhance the brand (29%). Surprisingly, only 11% of managers stated that campaigning by NGOs influenced their company. One in ten cited current or forthcoming legislation as a factor in CSR programmes.

But although seven out of ten companies believed CSR to have a positive effect on their brand image, less than four in ten felt they were gaining the maximum publicity for their efforts, a case of being nervous about publicising their good work. Eighty percent promoted CSR through employee communications and 66% via media relations.

Employees were thought to be the most receptive to CSR (87%), followed by customers (79%) and the media (63%).

Only 37% of managers said they planned on spending more on CSR in the next 12 months, although some recognised the value of incorporating CSR into their brand. The best proponents of integrating CSR programmes into core brand values were seen to be the Body Shop (12%), BP (10%), Shell (9%) and the Co-operative Group (6%).

“CSR, it seems, has come of age. The great bulk of companies now recognise that they have to worry about more than simple financial performance and indeed, that they have wider responsibilities to society,” said Fiona Gilmore, chief executive of Springpoint. “Impact on the brand is a real driver behind this. For years, research has shown that consumers are more likely to view brands positively if they know the company behind those brands acts responsibly towards society. Now companies are waking up to the possibilities for brand positioning and brand enhancement through CSR.”

Copies of the Brand Responsibility report are available from Philippa Emery, Springpoint, on 020 7483 8500, or through surveys@springpointgroup.com, at a cost of £45 each. After print and production costs have been recovered, all proceeds from the sale of the report will be donated to WaterAid.

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