Just How Socially Responsible are Corporations Today?

Citing a lack of interest or priority, 62.5% of companies are not engaged in corporate social responsibility programs according to a study conducted by The Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG).

These results seem at odds with the fact that 60% of respondents think that corporate social responsibility programs have or will have a positive impact on profitability and overall performance of the company. Additionally, the key opportunities associated with these programs included employee motivation (71%), influencing customer behaviors (54%), growth and innovation (54%) and increased profits (25%).

"Clearly, companies that are not participating in programs of this sort are missing out on tremendous business opportunities that not only directly affect the bottom line, but also offer indirect financial incentives reaped when employees are more motivated and loyal," remarked Richard Guha, Chairman of the MENG Board of Directors. "In a slowing economy these programs become even more important."

Those companies that do have corporate social responsibility programs are seemingly very committed to them, with 39% committing between one and five years to programs and a 50% committing more than five years to their initiatives. Additionally, 66% of companies with such programs diligently created formal charters for their initiatives before beginning implementation. Of this group, 44% first identified causes and issues that mattered most to their customers and clients prior to formalizing these charters, while 39% percent also factored in employee causes and concerns. This shows a keen understanding within these companies of the bottom line importance of influencing key stakeholders with corporate social responsibility initiatives.

"Making a difference has become the new profit driver," said Samantha Taylor, founder of Reputation Dynamics, a corporate responsibility advisory services company, and the MENG member who led the survey. "If companies don't act now and adopt social responsibility strategies, they will be left behind."

But even those companies committed to their CSR initiatives said that there were challenges associated with them, including resources (57%), cost (40%), and demonstrating accountability and results (38%). Having an impact in the community and an enhanced reputation were key factors identified as determining whether the companies they work for will be able to demonstrate results.

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