The State of CSR in Australia
10 February 2011 at 10:49 am
Australian organisations – public, private and Not for Profit – are embracing corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a means of delivering improved competitive advantage and creating new products and services, Australia’s largest CSR survey has revealed.
However, improved reputation remains the strongest outcome from CSR, research by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) has found.
The State of CSR Annual Review: 2010-2011 surveyed almost 500 managers across a broad spectrum of Australian industry sectors.
The Annual Review is billed as one of the largest on-going research projects on CSR anywhere in the world and the biggest survey of CSR practice and performance in Australia.
The report also revealed that 80 per cent of respondents to the survey agreed that CSR contributed to strengthened reputation, more than double to 2008 figure of less than 40 per cent.
Just over 60 per cent of respondents said CSR contributed to reduced costs, up from less than 20 per cent in 2008.
The State of CSR Annual Review: 2010-2011 also reveals changing attitudes towards climate change within Australian businesses.
The report says that there was a significant decline in organisations reporting the need to understand climate change, suggesting Australian organisations are moving towards a ‘business as usual’ approach to managing climate change concerns.
It says reducing environmental impact and building an understanding of CSR within their organisations were rated the most important issues for CSR managers this year.
The ACCSR research also found that CSR staff and budgets, which saw cuts during the Global Financial Crisis, were on the rebound with strong increases in hiring and spending forecast for 2011.
Launching the report, ACCSR’s Managing Director Dr Leeora Black says this year’s results showed that CSR is gaining traction as a strategic business opportunity.
Black says organisations are reporting increasingly strong links between CSR capabilities and positive performance – economic, environmental and social.
She says it is encouraging to see Australian organisations moving beyond a focus on risk minimisation and regulatory compliance and more towards innovation capabilities as the value of CSR.
She says the business case for CSR is also widely accepted by organisations, although the research shows there’s still a long way to go before corporate social responsibility is truly integrated into business strategy.
She says the research provides a clear insight into the state of CSR in Australia and identifies trends in corporate social responsibility and sustainability practice.
The research also identified the CSR Top 20 – the organisations in various industry sectors with the most advanced CSR capabilities.
Four Australian Not for Profits are listed in the top 20 organisations – Charities Aid Foundation Australia, Mission Australia, National Breast Cancer Foundation and The Smith Family.