MP survey points to lack of belief in PR-led CSR policy

MPs believe PR and public affairs professionals are the wrong people to drive corporate social responsibility policy and are calling for firms to appoint designated CSR directors, according to a survey released this week.

Research firm BPRI surveyed 100 MPs, who said that the best people within a firm to drive CSR policy are either the chief executive or a CSR director.

When asked who within a company should be responsible for CSR, 77 per cent said the CEO, 60 per cent said the CSR director and just 38 per cent said the director of corporate affairs.

Other senior PR roles came further down the list, with just 35 per cent mentioning the public affairs director, and the director of external affairs role being mentioned by 34 per cent.

MPs even went as far as saying that senior health and safety officials, HR and environmental staff were all better placed to handle CSR than PR specialists.

Simon Goldie, BPRI development manager, said the survey shows that if a PR professional is seen to be driving CSR policy, it could reduce its credibility among MPs.

Goldie said: ‘As far as MPs are concerned, CSR shouldn’t be seen to be a PR exercise and should be driven from the top or by a CSR director. The PR person has to make it clear that they are promoting the CSR but are not driving it.’

IPR policy group chairman Chris Genasi said: ‘There’s a subtle difference between driving CSR and co-ordinating it. I agree 100 per cent that CSR isn’t and shouldn’t be seen to be purely a PR thing. But those in corporate affairs are often best placed to co-ordinate it, as, unlike health and safety managers, who look internally, they look externally and see the bigger picture.’

He added that he disagreed with the creation of designated CSR director roles, as this can ‘ghettoise’ the subject.

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