Survey finds employees key to CSR initiatives

CHICAGO: Consumers are depending on employees more when making decisions about a company?s corporate social responsibility practices, according to a new GolinHarris survey.

CHICAGO: Consumers are depending on employees more when making decisions about a company?s corporate social responsibility practices, according to a new GolinHarris survey.

In a survey of 3,500 Americans, respondents said they trust employees most to communicate a company's CSR practices.

The survey also found that 85% of respondents said that treating employees well was either a very high or high indicator of good corporate citizenship. This was the second year that employee relations was the most important factor.

The least important of the 12 indicators of corporate citizenship was donating or investing a fare share of profits, goods, or services to benefit others. Only 59% ranked this high or very high.

Fred Cook, GolinHarris CEO and president, said that the impact employees had on CSR success initially surprised him.

"The most interesting thing of this survey is [how important] the tangible ways that companies relate to their employees are," Cook said, adding that Golin's CSR and employee relations often worked closely together. "[CSR] is not just a matter of checkbook philanthropy; it has to be combined with authentic, credible information."

After employee word-of-mouth, media relations was the most important way to disseminate CSR endeavors.

"PR should be at the heart of CSR in determining the right approach and communicating the actual programs," Cook said. "Running ads just isn't as effective."

The survey found that CSR initiatives had the ability to impact business, as 40% of respondents said they were more willing to patronize a company that exhibited good corporate citizenship.

The online surveys took place between April 8 and May 3, 2005, and the margin of error is +/- 3%.

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