CSR Becoming Part of Formal Company Structure – New Report
Thursday, 5th February 2009 at 1:59 pm
A new report released by the Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship confirms that managing a company’s role in society is becoming a formal part of corporate structure and management practice, with many companies internalising the function into corporate departments and cross functional teams.
In researching the frequently asked question: “How do companies organise staff to meet the demands of corporate citizenship?” Boston College collected data from global companies in a variety of industries in 2008.
The survey results reveal several common models, and that departments dedicated to corporate citizenship or corporate social responsibility are beginning to emerge.
The report “Structure and Strategies, Profile of the Practice 2008: Managing Corporate Citizenship” is based on survey data from 330 global corporations, most based in North America. In addition to organisational structure, the research focused on how companies manage multiple and sometimes conflicting responsibilities to their many stakeholders.
Boston College Centre Executive Director Dr Bradley Googins says this groundbreaking research provides an important baseline to follow on a biennial basis.
He says the picture emerging suggests companies will continue to formalise the corporate citizenship functions, although most still do it in a manner very idiosyncratic to the firm.
In examining the management systems associated with corporate citizenship, the Boston College researchers contend the field is in an early stage. They find it is still struggling with agreement on definitions and terms and has not yet reached consensus on what should be included within its boundaries.
The research findings regarding management systems include:
– Corporate citizenship is not strongly linked to strategy or business plans in most companies
– Top management identifies corporate citizenship as important but in most companies does not exercise significant leadership on the issue
– Employees are seen as the most influential stakeholders for citizenship but inside the company are seen as the least informed
– Boards of directors are just beginning to focus on corporate citizenship issues
– Measurement and use of measures of corporate citizenship are weak
– Minimal training is being done at every level on the relevance of citizenship to the success of the business
These management trends from this survey mirror the findings of the Centre’s 2007 State of Corporate Citizenship in the United States that found substantial gaps in the practice of citizenship.
While the survey reveals much about what is lacking in the management of corporate citizenship, it also gives some indications of what management structure and strategies are associated with higher performing citizenship.
The researchers say the higher level leadership, cross-functional teamwork and dedicated department management are attributes seen in companies that have demonstrated strong performance.
Definitive answers on the “best” way for individual companies to manage corporate citizenship remain to be found. But going forward, this report offers food for thought on emerging questions about what path corporate citizenship will follow as more companies embed citizenship responsibilities into their formal organisation.