Today I was highly enthused to hear about the latest State of Corporate Citizenship report released by the Boston Center for Corporate Citizenship, with findings from 752 executives from companies with operations across the globe. Since measuring global CSR progress at SAP occupies much of my think-space, I was curious to learn what [if anything] has changed since this study began a decade ago, especially across our peer landscape. Also, let’s be frank, you may not have the wherewithal to delve into all 36 pages. So to make things a bit simpler, here are my top 10 finds [with italicized commentary]:
1. CSR is Non-Negotiable. While a decade ago, the concept of corporate citizenship was largely considered ideology-driven, it’s now a non-negotiable part of business strategy.
I already like where this is going…
2. Business is taking on all aspects of CSR. Between various dimensions of corporate citizenship (from social investments to sustainability to governance), most executives prioritize all aspects.
In other words, go big or go home.
3. The business case for CSR is real. Most executives say corporate citizenship plays a role across many business priorities beyond brand – including customer and talent acquisition; in some cases, businesses integrating corporate citizenship have seen their success rates more than double.
4. CSR helps recruit, innovate, and do business. More tangibly, and within our sector (Information), of executives’ top reported businesses priorities, corporate citizenship contributes most to (in order of business priority):
- Improve ability to recruit employees
- Develop innovative new products and services
- Attract new investors
- Improve access to new markets
- Improve customer retention
- Enhance reputation
Bam. More money.
5. Longevity of commitment matters. Thinking about that one-hit-wonder donation to the pet rock project? Think again. Longer-standing commitments to specific corporate citizenship efforts correlate with higher success of business goals.
6. Data protection and privacy sits top-of-mind. Within our sector (Information), the highest-priority corporate citizenship efforts include:
- Consumer data protection and privacy (No surprises there.)
- Philanthropy/Corporate Giving
- Pollution prevention practices
The least prioritized is employee volunteering. For us, this means our team is ahead of the curve.
Big data. Is. Big.
7. CSR returns to shareholders are real. Across the board, social, environmental, and governance investments deliver shareholder return by standard investment horizon (see Figures 12A-12C).
Alright, I already said, “Bam. Money.” Twice.
8. On-par with sector priorities, and pushing the youth agenda. While STEM education, bridging the digital divide, and developing entrepreneurship are among our corporate citizenship priorities as well as those of our peers, one of the least-prioritized areas in our sector includes youth programs. In spite of the status quo, here’s why investing in youth is actually one of our top priorities.
#STEM #tech #entrepreneurship #youth #millennials ###
9. The consumer-executive gap. There’s a gap between what social issues consumers believe business should be responsible for and what executives believe their businesses should be responsible for.
10. CSR is moving beyond donations, volunteering, and development. Of all corporate citizenship priorities, the study predicts the following will fall to the bottom of the list by 2017:
- Employee volunteer programs
- Community economic development
- Philanthropic corporate giving
That said, most business will still prioritize these activities, but just less than, say, recycling.
Ultimately, when much of our Facebook feeds this past year have been clobbered by conflict, it’s welcome reinforcement that those entities equipped with the most resources in our society are paying increased attention to their social impact. Even more, we have growing evidence that in doing good, business is also doing well. Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility are much more than theories of change: CSR’s just plain good business.