US Survey rocks established beliefs on CSR
I was really interested to read – in ProBono’s latest newsletter – about a new US opinion survey. Contrary to what has been generally accepted to date, nearly one in two American consumers believe the most important proof of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is treating employees well. CSR IS more than environmental stewardship and philanthropy!
The survey found that 76% of consumers agree that to be socially responsible, companies should place employee salary and wage increases above making charitable contributions AND that 76% believe a company’s treatment of its employees plays a big role in consumer purchasing decisions.
Do you think it’s the same here in Australia?
It seems average Americans feel strongly about buying products from, or working for a company whose values are aligned with their own personal values.
Survey respondents say it’s “extremely” or “very” important to work for (79%), buy products and services from (65%), and socialise with (72%) those who have similar values and principles.
Social Venture Network views
Mal Warwick, chair of the Social Venture Network – Connect, communicate, challenge, change – says the study findings demonstrate that the brand of CSR that most corporations favour simply isn’t enough to impress most consumers.
He believes these consumer attitudes are more in line with the ‘triple bottom line’ approach to social responsibility, in which people, planet, and profit are balanced, meaning policies should actively favour the key stakeholders in a business…its employees, its customers, its suppliers, its community, and its environment, as well as its owners…and THIS makes the business more competitive.
How Americans rate companies today
Only 21% give U.S. corporations top marks for being socially responsible. When asked to rate how companies are performing compared with two to three years ago, only 30% believe that companies are doing a “somewhat better” or “a lot better” job of being socially responsible.
Use of Internet technology is changing the way people learn about and determine which companies are socially responsible, the survey found.
Almost half of the respondents (47%) say they have used the Internet to learn about the extent to which a company is or is not being socially responsible. The survey results also demonstrate that 53% of Americans believe that their own online research is one of the most credible means by which to shape their opinions on deciding whether U.S. companies are being socially responsible.
The research indicates that a new generation of online activists is emerging that cuts across many socioeconomic groups in the arena of corporate social responsibility.
The survey also found a positive relationship between active Internet use and engagement in social responsibility. About two-fifths of those using the Internet have sent e-mail to a company about its products or services (41%) or to an elected state or federal official about an issue (38%).
Americans who frequently use online resources were also more aware of global standards that act as a seal of approval that people can use to validate a company’s social responsibility commitment.
The survey also tracked the role that media and technology play in informing people about what companies are doing to be socially responsible.
Have a look at the opinion survey American Consumers’ Definition of the Socially Responsible Company Runs Counter to Established beliefs and tell us how you think Australian companies would stack up?