ACCSR State of CSR in Australia Report
15 February 2012 at 5:09 pm
Australian companies and organisations are missing out on creating new products, services and markets because they fail to take advantage of opportunities for innovation provided by their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, according to new research.
The research shows that CSR in Australia is still driven by the traditional perception that its value lies in enhancing reputation, reducing risk and facilitating regulatory compliance.
Respondents to the State of CSR in Australia Annual Review 2011/2012 survey conducted by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) rated ‘helping to obtain better access to new markets’ as 9th out of 13 drivers of CSR in their organisation – far below strengthening brand and managing community expectations about the impacts of
“Developing new products, services and markets as a result of CSR seems to be a happy accident for companies in Australia,” said ACCSR Managing Director Dr Leeora Black.
“Rather than grasp the potential of CSR programs to create value, our research shows that organisations still see their CSR in very traditional terms. But some organisations are discovering that CSR can actually create new opportunities for them – and meet consumer desires for more environmentally and socially responsible products and services.”
The survey found that the ‘main game’ for CSR in Australia this year was responding to Australia’s new carbon pricing regime, with one quarter of respondents nominating ‘carbon/carbon tax’ as the issue that will be high priority for their organisation in 2012.
Managing regulatory impacts was chosen from a pre-set list as a high or very high priority for 2012 by more than two thirds of respondents, while other carbon price–related priorities were ‘addressing the impact of the carbon pricing scheme’, ‘reducing/eliminating negative environmental impacts’ and ‘managing the impact of climate change on our organisation’.
The State of CSR in Australia also looked at CSR management capabilities – which have been shown to be good predictors of organisational performance.
“There is a distinct divide between high-scoring companies – the pioneers – and those who are still developing their capabilities. CSR pioneers are achieving reduced costs, strengthened reputation and competitive advantage and avoiding the damaging consequences of poor performance such as litigation,” Dr Black said.
“These findings accord with other international studies which have found sustainability leaders capture more benefits from CSR than others.”
The report says more CSR managers are nominating difficulties in evaluating and measuring CSR impacts and performance than in the past as an obstacle to success in their organisations.
It says that this may reflect companies’ maturing expectations of CSR, expecting the same rigorous assessment of CSR activities as they would other budget spend.
As well the report says ‘rewarding’ and ‘challenging’ were the words used most commonly to describe the experience of working in CSR. Although more than a quarter of respondents expect their organisation to create more CSR roles in 2012, and budgets will increase for core CSR activities, this is unlikely to be enough to adequately resource the emerging challenges for most organisations.
It says CSR workers will continue to feel ‘stretched’ and inadequately supported in many organisations.
The full report, The Innovation Challenge – the State of CSR in Australia Annual Review 2011/2012 was launched at ACCSR’s conference on February 15 and is available for free download on the ACCSR website (http://www.accsr.com.au) from next week.