“Corporate citizenship is weathering the storm. Despite the economic downturn, the value of corporate citizenship is growing as companies realize greater reputational advantage,” said Chris Pinney, Director of Research and Policy at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. “The survey also reveals companies are more committed to communicating about their efforts related to social issues and concern for the environment.”
Impakt‘s experience supports these findings. Over the last year, we’ve seen very few clients reduce their program in this area. Today, I believe the key value drivers for corporations are: reputation, risk management, employee engagement, and external stakeholder engagement. In terms of improving performance, the questions that I’m are asked most often are: How can we better operationalize our CSR programs? How can we measure the ROI of our community investment partnerships? and What are the most cost-effective ways to increase internal and external awareness of our programs?
Highlights of the Center’s 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship in the United Statesreport include:
- Despite upheaval in the economy, a majority of U.S. companies are not making major changes in their corporate citizenship practices. Of those who made changes 38% reduced philanthropy/giving, 27% increased layoffs, and 19% reduced R&D for sustainable products.
- Most U.S. senior executives believe business should be more involved than it is today in addressing major public issues including health care, product safety, education, and climate change. Surveyed in June, just as the national debate on health care began to intensify, some 65 percent said business should increase its involvement in this issue.
- Reputation was cited by 70% as a driver for corporate citizenship, tied for the top spot with it fits our company traditions and values.
- The citizenship response during the recession differed between larger and smaller companies. Large companies significantly increased their investments and involvement in citizenship activities, but were more likely to impose layoffs. Small firms stayed committed to their emphasis on treating employees well by minimizing layoffs. But they significantly decreased attention to other aspects of citizenship.
- Based on current economic conditions, 15% of companies are increasing R&D for new sustainable products; 11% are increasing corporate citizenship marketing and communications; and 10% are increasing local and/or domestic sourcing or manufacturing.
- Half of the businesses are supporting skill development for employees making less than $40,000 annually and see these efforts as boosting productivity.
- Only 34 percent of executives who responded to the survey say greater regulatory oversight by the federal government is an important part of solving the current economic crisis and creating a more stable economy.