The Data, Please….Making the Case for CSR

Carolyn Berkowitz, ACCP

While corporate citizenship is fast becoming the norm and expected for every company, we know that often the biggest hurdle is making the internal case for resources. Great data exists, but it is scattered across the internet…good luck finding it in a pinch!

The insights from corporate stakeholders – consumers, employees, investors, communitiesabout what drives their behaviors can help us build a compelling, data-driven business case. Isn’t that what we need in order to convince those with the purse strings that our work is well worth the investment?

ACCP has curated the best data for building a compelling case, in a brand-new, member-only publication called Making the Case. Here are a couple of the key proof points for you to have at your fingertips. 

Making The Case:

  1.  Consumers and the public overwhelmingly believe corporations have a responsibility to society beyond their regular business operations. They act on those beliefs.
    Your customers – and consumers writ large – are expecting your company to be solving social and environmental problems, and they vote with their wallets.
    Case in point:84% of Americans believe businesses have a responsibility to bring social change on important issues.
    – Global Strategy Group, 2019 Business & Politics: Do They Mix

    of consumers would switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality.
    – Cone Communications, 2017 CSR Study
  2.  Employees and potential employees prioritize companies that are committed to CSR when they make their choices about where to work, especially millennials and Gen Z’s.
    If talent is a company’s greatest resource, there is no more powerful argument for offering high quality, meaningful opportunities for employees to make an impact. The data suggests it is well worth including your community engagement and sustainability practices in your company’s talent brand and retention strategies. If anyone thinks social investment and employee volunteer programs are “nice but not necessary,” this data will make them think twice:79% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.
    76% of millennials would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary would be less than at other companies.
    Cone Communications, Employee Engagement Study, 2016
  3.  Corporate Boards and CEO’s are increasingly focused on social and environmental sustainability because they impact the bottom line.
    As ESG drives the stakes higher, issues that were once only an emphasis for Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability departments are now making their way to the C-Suite and the Boardroom[1].After focusing intensely on the composition of boards, institutional investors have now begun to shift their focus to the social involvement of corporations. Boards are responding.
    – Spencer Stuart, What Directors Think, 2018

    Done well, corporate responsibility can reduce risks and protect the company’s license to operate, safeguarding as much as 10% of the company’s value. It can also grow and protect corporate responsibility-related brand and reputation value, nurturing as much as 11% of the firm’s value.
    – IO Sustainability and Babson College, Project ROI, 2015

  4.  Institutional and individual investors now consider ESG a mainstream expectation for their portfolios, and the “S” is growing the fastest.
    While a company’s response to climate change remains the #1 priority of investors, the expectation is not growing as rapidly as it had been in previous years. Instead, prioritizing specific social issues as criteria for ESG portfolios is growing exponentially[2].

    One in 4 dollars (26%)
    of total US assets under professional management are in sustainable, responsible, and impact investments—a 38% increase between 2016 and 2018.

    Tobacco use
    was the fastest growing ESG criteria from 2016 to 2018— increasing by 432% for individual investors and 120% for institutional investors. Other rapidly growing restrictions or considerations are Human Rights, Anti-Corruption, Diversity & Inclusion, and Weapons.
    – U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, 2018
  5.  CSR Benchmarking shows that more companies are giving more dollars, more strategically. Every dimension of volunteering is growing as well.
    Even as companies are decreasing overall headcount, the size of contributions teams is remaining flat or slightly increasing, based often on the size of the giving portfolio[3]. The number of hours, breadth of programming, and scope of geographies of volunteering is growing as well.3 These are indicators that the CSR function is a growing priority, likely as a reflection of increasing internal and external stakeholder expectations.Benchmarking research for 2019 is hot off the press. Here are some of the insights from ACCP and CECP:

    The Top Business Drivers for social investments are Reputation (94%) and Talent Recruitment (83%), followed by Organizational Culture (76%), Brand (75%), and Talent Retention (74%).
    – ACCP Benchmarking Study, 2019 (unpublished)

    of companies increased their total giving between 2018 and 2019, with a median increase of 11%.

    The Top 2 Focus Areas rated as highly important are Workforce (71%) and Disaster (67%). The fastest growing focus areas are STEM and Disaster.
    – CECP Giving in Numbers, October 2019

ACCP has developed a report with comprehensive data in infographics on each of these five compelling reasons to invest in growing your company’s CSR. The first Infographic is available to all here, however the full report is available only to ACCP member companies. To find out more about this and other ACCP Member Benefits, visit our website.

[1] Spencer Stuart, What Directors Think, 2018

[2] U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, 2018

[3] CECP Giving in Numbers, 2019

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