Corporate social responsibility and financial gain are becoming more and more intertwined, according to a new survey by Grant Thornton conducted among 2,500 companies in 34 countries. Companies used to see CSR as a way to build their brand, nowadays socially and environmentally sustainable practices are increasingly conducted because this also makes good financial sense.
The report – entitled ‘Corporate social responsibility: beyond financials’ – shows that cost savings is the main driving force for more sustainable operations, as is said by two-thirds of the respondents (67%). In 2011, this was still 56%. The second largest motive is the client/consumer demand (64%), followed by ‘because it's the right thing to do’ (62%). An overview of the key drivers:
“Our research provides compelling evidence that CSR and broader business objectives are becoming more aligned. The findings suggest that benefits of adopting more environmentally and socially sustainable business practices are becoming ever more tangible, for example through tax relief on charitable activity or lower energy bills due to efficiency measures introduced,” says Francesca Lagerberg, Global Head of Tax at Grant Thornton.
In addition, the researchers of the accounting and consulting firm note that little attention for CSR could have an increasingly negative affect on the commercial performance. “Companies that make profit at the expense of the local population or the environment see the demand for their products or services quickly reduce.” In particular, the rise of social media and digital technologies play a driving role in this.
Looking at the main driver, cost saving, it can be noted that in particular emerging countries put this high on the list of priorities. India leads the way (87%), followed by Malaysia (84%) and Japan (84%).
CRS in the UK
In the UK, the main driver behind CSR is client/consumer demand (62%), followed by recruitment/staff retention (49%). Cost management is only seen as a key driver by 48%. “Despite the overall recognition of cost benefits, it's interesting to see that British businesses seem far more reactive in their approach to CSR and are largely responding to stakeholders' needs,” says Jane Stevensen, Director of Sustainability of Grant Thornton.