Icon Internal Study "CSR on the testbed"
13 Jul 2007|Added Value
Corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, corporate image – all things “corporate” are high on the agenda. When the turnover of WalMart is as high as the gross domestic product of Denmark, when the top 200 companies represent a quarter of all global economic activity, when more than half of the top 100 economic powers are companies and only the remainder are countries, it is about time that we start wondering what responsibilities companies have, what they should have and what they actually take responsibility for.
Given the UN climate report, the pros and cons of globalisation, the social conflicts and problems at our front door, the much-maligned lack of morals in the western world, international conflicts and, last but not least, the tangibly decreasing power of western politics, companies are increasingly moving into the public eye. Never before has it been made so clear to the population that we all only have one Planet Earth and that, at least where an increasing number of companies are concerned, this planet is their market – the term “Global Village” goes way beyond communications.
Who is the village elder, the mayor and the parish council in our global village? Who makes sure the water in the stream is kept clean, that nature is preserved, that everyone can make a living, that conflicts and arguments do not escalate, that businesses run properly and fraudsters do not get a look-in? Who will make sure that our village remains a place worth living and loving in? We still have eight years – to sort out the village climate at least…
In an internal study on CSR, Icon Added Value looked into the responsibility of companies – into what the ‘man on the street’ currently thinks and what he wants for the future, what the burning issues are and which companies should be worrying about which problems. We also investigated concrete attitudes on specific brands based on a selection of 25 brands from different industries.
A total of 500 people from a representative sample took part in our online questionnaire, and their answers showed us how much this subject affects people.
Summary of the Icon Added Value CSR Study
There is virtually no-one in Germany who has not at least thought about the issue of corporate responsibility. People are also prepared to get involved in the challenges: The individual is as much responsible as the government and companies. Of course, there are different attitudes towards CSR among the population – “The broad majority”, “Committed”, “Mistrustful” and even “Opponents”.
The most significant challenges for the future are reducing CO2 emissions, cutting environmental pollution and preserving resources. But fat-cat payments, corruption and transparency are also hot topics. Work-related issues are in third place. Issues with no all-embracing relevance, such as local or charity issues, are seen as less important. Looking after number one is still the most important thing: purchasing decisions are most influenced by the things most close to our hearts, such as healthy products.
Overall, the view of fulfilment of corporate responsibility by German companies is not all that impressive in the eyes of the people. On average, only 11 % saw a high level of responsible action, with 43 % seeing responsibility “to some extent” and 35 % feeling that responsibility is not taken seriously at all. The bandwidth for a slightly more generous consideration – i.e. “high” and “to some extent” taken together – is very broad: scores from 35 % to 72 % are assigned to the different sectors of industry.
The best scores were achieved by retail, household appliances and food, followed by publishing and cosmetics. The influence of “eco-labels” is clearly evident here.
Things don‘t look as good for alcohol/tobacco, followed by energy providers, fast food, fashion and airlines. In the middle are – in descending order – hotels/leisure industry, furniture/decorating, household cleaners, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, financial services and automotive.