CSR has little impact on investors, claim executives

Investors and customers do not care about a company’s socially responsible policies, according to the latest results of an annual survey of senior executives’ views on corporate reputation.

Only nine per cent of the European senior executives surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, for Hill & Knowlton’s annual Corporate Reputation Watch, said socially responsible behaviour was important to investors. Four per cent of the respondents said CSR was an issue that mattered to customers.

The executives said investors were much more concerned by quality of product and service (75 per cent), the calibre of the firm’s CEO and management (67 per cent) and corporate reputation (63 per cent).

They also mentioned media coverage (33 per cent) and strong corporate governance (31 per cent) as important to investors.

H&K EMEA chairman and chief executive Andrew Laurence said executives’ perception that CSR was not effective might be because such policies were driven by external concerns rather than from within the company itself.

‘It is of some concern that social responsibility is regarded as having so little cut-through with some key audiences,’ said Laurence.

‘If CSR is to be sustainable, it needs to demonstrate direct impact on the bottom line. Unless this can be achieved, it will be forever reliant on boardroom patronage.’

On the question of who drives CSR policy, 48 per cent of executives said that CSR was the chief executive’s responsibility.

A further 36 per cent said CSR came within the board’s remit while ten per cent said it was the corporate comms division’s responsibility.

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