Posts Tagged ‘csr’
CSR Research Digest – April 2013
Grayling has released the latest results of Grayling PULSE, its quarterly global survey of in-house communications professionals. Over 1,300 communications professionals worldwide participated in the third PULSE survey, the objective of which is to provide valuable data and insights upon which communications professionals can respond to, better plan and benchmark their organisation’s approach to communications activities and their own internal PR resources.
- Most organisations (37 per cent) allocate just 10 per cent of their overall communications budget to CSR communications
- Only half (52 per cent) of organisations believe their media is interested in covering CSR issues
- The sectors that believe they have the best performance in CSR & sustainability are Consumer & Retail (58%), Transportation, Automotive & Logistics (53%) and Energy, Environment & Industry (53%)
- The top three areas of focus for CSR / sustainability programmes are; Community and Corporate Social Responsibility (16%); Waste and Recycling (13%) and Philanthropy and Volunteering (11%)
- The most common ways for CSR / sustainability activity to be communicated are; through Media Relations (25%) and Employee / Internal Communications (24.6%)
- Only 12 per cent of organisations are using social media to communicate their CSR / sustainability activity
CSR Research Digest – April 2013
Environmental Leader launched its 2013 Insider Knowledge Report sharing lessons learned from 120 corporate environmental, energy and sustainability decision-makers. The third annual report gives real-world examples of how sustainability initiatives are making a difference at companies and the topics covered include energy management, auditing and reporting, strategy and leadership, supply chain, water management and waste and recycling.
- Companies are using their sustainability, environmental and energy management initiatives to solve “big” problems, and that the steps taken by some of these companies have been significant over the last year — and have led to big gains.
- L’Oreal is tackling the big issue of climate change and the need to reduce its carbon footprint by becoming operational with four new US solar installations, among other initiatives.
- General Motors collects proposed projects from facilities and prioritizes them based on return on investment and probability of successful implementation. In 2012, the company spent $20 million on energy efficiency in the US, and as a result reduced manufacturing energy intensity by 8 percent from the previous year.
- Walmart introduced its Sustainability Index in 2011 in order to tackle the challenge of developing a more sustainable supply chain and to create business value by increasing quality, efficiency and resiliency in the supply chain.
- SC Johnson has committed to delivering its products with a minimal environmental footprint, and part of this commitment has led to the use of wind power.
CSR Research Digest – April 2013
Sustainability consultancy SolAbility issued its 6th annual Korean ESG review. The report, “Corporate Sustainability 2013 Korea”, analyses sustainability trends, financial returns, corporate governance, sustainable business development, energy security and compares sustainability performance in various South Korean economic sectors.
- Management awareness of sustainability has accelerated strongly since the financial crises of 2008/2009 but certain areas remain challenging, with little improvement made over recent years.
- Governance and the Chaebol structure remain an unresolved issue that has spilled into the recent presidential elections.
- 2012 has seen a development towards integration of sustainability considerations in strategic business decision making in South Korea, with many companies exploring sustainable and/or “green” business growth opportunities
- Despite significant efforts and public campaigns, South Korea’s energy intensity remains significantly above OECD averages.
- Analysis of the financial performance also shows that sustainable management capabilities continue to return better financial results.
- Shares of sustainable companies also yield higher returns: the SolA50, an index of Korea’s 50 most sustainable companies, continues to outperform the market and SRI benchmarks for a 5th consecutive year by considerable margins.
By Lama Diab
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming more fully integrated into the company’s core business strategy. CSR moved beyond philanthropy. It is identified as activity benefiting its shareholders. Industries, that are dependent on the exploitation of natural resources, such as chemical, mining and crude oil production, gas and electric industries, have identified environmental responsibility as their primary CSR focus.
In the Middle East, we can find companies that are still perceiving CSR as philanthropy and have not yet passed it to a “core business strategy “. Is it because of the cultural and religious belief, that we should give to the poor (Zakat or charity), so they consider it as their CSR? Should it be obligatory so that companies will start thinking about CSR more strategically?
Over the past few years, the interest has literally exploded in regional media and business community with a lot of foreign companies working in the field, companies hiring CSR specialists and setting up CSR departments. The focus is also getting more strategic and more diversified. We still see a lot of community initiatives but companies have started experimenting with other avenues and the focus on other aspects of CSR has heightened, as said by Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul.
A survey “What Do Middle Eastern Leaders Think about CSR”, conducted by Sustainability Advisory Group (SAG) in 2009, revealed that the majority of leaders in the Middle East (106 respondents ranging from UAE, KSA, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Jordan and Qatar) work in CSR/Sustainability (22%). CSR becomes an essential part of regional business activity, but we can’t deny that there is a difference between Arab countries in applying and practicing CSR.
In Oman and Dubai, over the past couple of years, there have been various meaningful initiatives. Companies in these countries are taking CSR and sustainability very seriously and they are showing an increasing commitment to CSR. Other countries like Lebanon, when it comes to CSR and sustainability, have largely focused purely on PR activities masked as CSR.
What are the main challenges in the region?
In an article called “CSR in the Arab World: A Mission Impossible?” written by Kjetil Selvik, the main challenges of CSR in the Arab countries are displayed. It is hard to spot the difference between CSR and Zakat in practice. Moreover, in Arab countries, CSR is often reduced to some donations like money or food, or planting trees in public parks. Measures like these do not satisfy the ambitions of CSR promoters, who would like to see systematic changes in how companies are operating. Does this mean that CSR won’t have a development impact in the Arab World?
One of the main challenges is that CSR is associated with profit logic. The Zakat model differs fundamentally in its incentive for acts of social responsibility. This is something that the individual is supposed to do for God. On another hand CSR is promoted as a business tool to improve the company’s reputation, and companies frequently share successful CSR stories with the media and the public. The normative difference between CSR and Zakat complicates the entrance of CSR into the Arab World. The CSR model introduces an instrumental framework that collides with local sensitivities. This is a potential problem of which organizations and businesses trying to introduce CSR in Arab countries should take note, says Selvik.
In conclusion, companies in the Middle East are realizing the importance in adopting a CSR strategy and what it can bring for them as a benefit on their triple bottom line. They are trying to go beyond a simple donation or planting trees. Moreover, they are starting to measure their KPIs and to write sustainable reports. It is true that companies in the Middle East still have a long road for sustainability, but it is good that there is a will, and when there is a will there is a way!
CSR Research Digest – April 2013
Oxfam released a study which analyses corporate sustainability programmes in the food and beverage industry. The report, “Behind the Brands”, ranked the companies, which include Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Associated British Foods (ABF) according to their standards across seven different areas including the transparency of their supply chains and operations, how they ensure the rights of workers and farmers who grow their ingredients, how they protect women’s rights, the management of water and land use, and policies to reduce the impacts of climate change.
- None of the ‘Big 10′ multinationals score a good overall rating on their public policies and commitments covering their supply chains.
- Up to 80% of the global population considered ‘chronically hungry’ are farmers, yet huge tracts of fertile land is used for the production of unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks.
- Although the relationship between the food and beverage industry and endemic poverty and hunger is now well understood, the sourcing of commodities – cocoa, sugar, potatoes, tomatoes, soy, coffee, tea and corn – “is still plagued with injustice and inequity, much as it was 100 years ago.”
- Corporate sustainability programmes are typically being tightly focussed around specific projects such as water use or training women farmers, while failing to address the root causes of hunger and poverty because companies lack adequate policies to guide their own supply chain operations.
- At the bottom of the list comes Associated British Foods with a score of only 19%, largely because of a lack of transparency.
- Unilever and Nestlé are specifically accused of failing to declare zero tolerance against land grabs, even though millions of acres of land have been unjustly seized from poor farmers and rural communities over the last decade. Both companies are also criticised for failing to issue company policies addressing the crushing poverty and exploitation of women farmers and agricultural workers.
By Saskia Kloezeman
True locally owned CSR companies operating in the international markets are able to contribute to sustainable development for developing countries. This sounds logical and simple, while unfortunately the reality is different.
In developing countries investments made by local people do provide more sustainable job opportunities. The moment they have established connections with the international markets, these can be long term trade relationship, which build human capacity, technology and provide growing returns for their company, country, and in turn increase demand for service delivery.
International investors that establish their companies in developing countries can employ as much local people as they need, train them, build proper facilities, schools, hospitals, etc. At a certain moment they decide to pull out their investments as their returns peaked, and other countries provide more attractive benefits. In that situation, people lose their income, the facilities build for the community might not have sustained as they were supported by the company, not the community.
International companies have more opportunities to hire knowledgeable people to facilitate application procedures for grants, development funds or insurances and to apply CSR policies, strategies and upgraded technologies. Local communities will on the short term directly benefit from this. On the long term, local communities will not get the core information that is crucial to set up CSR business or the access to the international buyers. International companies are in a position to select carefully the country to invest and have done their homework before they invest in a country. This in contrary to successful domestic investors, who might just have finalized their high school. They are not aware that CSR exists and cannot benefit their company and country at large. The moment local companies can be CSR accredited, they will be able to increase their business into the international arena and sustain development within their own country.
The guarantee of companies to stay in developing countries is crucial to sustain economic growth and create sustainable income and tax revenues for that specific country. Local companies are the one that stay in their country and expand, while international investors more often might decide to sell their business and move to another country.
To conclude, a major bottleneck is that in general recognized or certified CSR companies that are exporting products are not locally owned, which creates various risks in sustainable development. The knowledge-gap and the regulations of the exporting markets is another bottleneck.
Solutions could be shared ownership of international CSR businesses. Providing opportunities for local communities to take over a part of the shares in companies to which they provide raw materials or services will guarantee the sustainability of the company in that specific area.
On the international CSR-arena, work should be done on accessibility of markets from companies in developing countries that are locally owned, while additional efforts have to be put in place to set up the CSR business, educating staff and to continue being profitable.
By Maryam Sadeghi
For those who are interested in Corporate Social Responsibility issues, it is quite normal to look at sources, as many as possible, to see the trends, new regulations, activities and researches that help improve social and environmental practices of Business. This helps me, as others who study in this area, to see what is going on about CSR in various disciplines. There is a need for a broader insight and seeing the problem from different angles.
Through participating in different events and workshops across disciplines to see the latest activities in this area, I was surprised to see the different understanding in different disciplines of Business and Management about CSR. The next step was to explore what other departments are doing in this area, which showed the deep level of mismatch. It is mainly because of the nature of the each discipline, but the lack of awareness of some aspect can be a problem. For instance in Engineering discipline, the focus is far from those researches that carried out in Business and Management disciplines. However, knowing the findings in other areas can help solve some issues and bring a new perspective that even can explain the problem better, especially if that particular aspect has been researched a lot in one discipline but still is a significant challenge in another discipline. In a similar vein, in the other disciplines, there are less awareness towards practical aspects, technologies and overall solutions that engineering disciplines offer and for sure this happens in many disciplines, as well.
This prompted me to think about the wider aspect of the issue that corporate social responsibility is a controversial issue, that we are dealing with internationally, because of current concerns over social and environmental issues in general and the significant role of business in particular. However, the research about social and environmental issue is so divergent; of course, each discipline works on the issue from a unique aspect and also researchers mostly aware of their own disciplines.
However, as Popper says, we should move from the ‘subject’ and its domains towards ‘the problem’ in the research. Therefore, do we need change practicing our research and seeing things from different perspectives? IF so, to what extent is there enough encouragement for an interdisciplinary approach to the social and environmental issues?
For example, in my searching on the internet to see how many schools and research centers offer interdisciplinary research in the CSR and related subjects, I can say, I found remarkably few. Similarly, cases in multi-discipline research that really confined to multi-supervision projects mainly because of the research grants.
According to Prof. Williams from university of Sheffield, multidisciplinary research is not always interdisciplinary. As interdisciplinary research, supposedly brings new understanding from different angles to help solve a problem that cannot be done necessarily within a discipline. Thus, the interdisciplinary approach helps grasp a broader dimension of an issue.
To conclude this it seems that the interdisciplinary approach in CSR is still a gap to be filled, and this field requires people from various backgrounds to bring their different perspective towards the field. As according to the definition by the National Academy of Sciences, 2004: “Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrate information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts and theories from two or more disciplines… to solve problems whose solution are beyond the scope of a single discipline”.
CSR Research Digest – April 2013
Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) released this year’s edition of their ongoing study of the CSR capabilities and performance of Australian organisations. The “State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand Annual Review 2012/2013″ focused on leadership in CSR.
- CSR practitioners doubt the quality of leadership in their organisation.
- When asked how companies displayed CSR leadership, respondents were cited examples of bold, visionary sustainability actions, programs, targets and initiatives from large-sized and prominent companies like Marks & Spencer, Westpac, Rio Tinto, NAB and Unilever.
- In contrast, when asked to share their own organisational experiences of CSR leadership, responses commonly related to traditional CSR elements like community investment and philanthropy. The third highest response overall was that the respondent’s company had not displayed any CSR leadership at all.
- Respondents rated the most effective tactics they used to overcome obstacles to CSR success. Those which were both widely-used and effective were linking CSR strategy to business strategy, increasing stakeholder engagement and enlisting senior management support.
- Tactics that are effective but less commonly used identifying CSR champions, setting operational indicators or targets and implementing CSR related key performance indicators for staff. The full report outlines a range of CSR tactics that work.
- For the fifth year running, a lack of organisational support was rated the greatest obstacle to CSR success. This ongoing challenge has implications for CSR leadership due to the inter-relationship between both issues.
Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR)
Governance Research Digest – March 2013
Climate Policy Initiative issued a report that mapped the potential of institutional investors to bridge the financing gap more cost effectively and identified the barriers to achieving it. The report, “The Challenge of Institutional Investment in Renewable Energy” analyzed the investment portfolios of more than 25 pension funds and insurance companies across North America, Europe, and Australia, along with global and national data on institutional investors.
- If all policy barriers were removed and investors optimized their renewable energy related investment practices, institutional investors could supply one quarter to one half of the investment needed to fund renewable energy projects through 2035.
- The long-term, reliable returns offered by green energy should align with institutional investors’ objectives, rather than those seeking short term gains.
- By making green energy investments, institutions could enhance the performance of their portfolios and lower the cost of capital for renewable energy while removing some of the financial burden of supporting clean energy infrastructure from cash-strapped governments.
- However, direct investment in renewable energy projects remains challenging for institutional investors, while backing for companies with some clean energy in their portfolios may not necessarily spark further investment in the clean energy sector.
- Tapping into this finance may require pooled investment vehicles that create liquidity, increase diversification, and reduce transaction costs, or the development of direct investment teams specialising in clean energy.
- Policy barriers discouraging institutional investors from contributing to renewable energy projects should also be removed
- These include perceived policy uncertainty, such as retrospective cuts to subsidies, and inconsistent legislation.
Climate Policy Initiative