On Wednesday, September 5, the DC Social Impact team participated in the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (BCCCC) Webinar “Key Findings from current research,” led by BCCCC Executive Director Katherine Smith. Guest presenters Nic Covey, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Nielsen and Brendan LeBlanc, Executive Director of Climate Change and Sustainability Services for Ernst & Young also presented recent findings.
Here are our top takeaways from the webinar:
1.Make employees count. While BCCCC reports that 90% of respondents identify customers as the most important stakeholder group, Ernst & Young’s LeBlanc noted that more and more execs are finding that employees are driving CSR initiatives. Across the board, all presenters nodded to the impact that company employees have as key stakeholders in CSR commitments. LeBlanc added that employees now want a visible road map of CSR initiatives and where they fit in. BCCCC also noted that CSR programs that lasted up to 4-6 years had the most success. Case in point-- More employees want to work for socially responsible corporations and want to be involved in shaping their company’s program for the long haul. Make your employees count in CSR programming.
2.Consider tailoring your CSR program. According to BCCCC’s findings, there are vast regional differences in what top execs believe are priority issue areas for CSR programing. Like finger prints, no one region is alike in needs from CSR programming. Here’s a look at the breakdown:
i. Compared to other regions, the US has significantly less concern for environmental sustainability
ii. ME/Africa/Pakistan are primarily concerned with achieving universal primary education
iii. Latin American countries are significantly more concerned about increasing access to cultural institutions than all other regions.
Also consider tailoring your programs to your target demographics, Nielsen’s Covey suggested. While across all demographic breakdowns, environmental sustainability was the number one priority, choices for second most important priority varied widely by gender and age.
3. Good News: Not all consumers care about CSR, but half do! Here’s a great argument for cause marketing: 46% of online consumers 15+ are willing to pay more for products and services from companies who are “giving back.” These socially conscious consumers are more likely to trust advertising across the board. 95% of socially conscious consumers say they trust earned marketing in the form of recommendations from their friends and 56% trust paid marketing in the form of brand sponsorship.
4. Focus on the details. No surprise here, accurate program measurement and reporting is important to program success. LeBlanc noted that more company executives reported caring about CSR rankings and ratings, and with that comes a need accurately track and report the impact of CSR programs. Businesses have even seen a rise in the role the CFO plays by identifying and measuring cost reductions and impact delivered through CSR programming.
Stay tuned for more research updates and lookout for the release of the full BCCC 2012 ‘State of Corporate Citizenship Report’ in October. For more information, follow the links to access the current research: