State of CSR in Australia Report
13 February 2013 at 4:46 pm
Australian CSR practitioners doubt the quality of leadership in their own organisations, according to research conducted by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR).
Respondents rated the most effective tactics they used to overcome obstacles to CSR success for the The State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand Annual Review 2012/2013 report that has a focus on leadership.
The reports findings were delivered at the ACCSR’s Annual Conference in Melbourne to a room of around 150 delegates in a forum focussing on Responsible Leadership in CSR.
The Australian and New Zealand CSR practitioners who participated in the study give ‘high praise’ of the CSR leadership of other large-sized organisations like Marks & Spencer, Westpac, Rio Tinto, NAB and Unilever for their visionary sustainability actions, programs and initiatives.
When asked why these companies were considered leaders, the top reason (24% of responses) was that they ‘walked the talk’ and integrated CSR practices with core business activities and strategies. This included making sustainability part of the business proposition and integrating it with products and services.
Communication of CSR performance was the second reason companies were considered to be leaders (19%). Responses related to companies using public relations and advertising to promote their efforts, regular updates on their progress and having a willingness to share their own story.
The ACCSR report said that CSR professionals deemed the act of promoting CSR values, activities and commitments as a sign of leadership, rather than the proven achievement of these initiatives.
The Managing Director of ACCSR Dr. Leeora Black said that this does not necessarily mean that the report’s findings indicate there is an absence of CSR leadership in Australia and New Zealand.
“There is a difference between having an intimate knowledge of an organisation’s challenges and seeing only the corporate image that is reflected outwards to society,” she said.
“When we are looking at others that we would regard as pioneers or trailblazers, we are more inclined to see the image they are portraying to the world, while when we reflect on our own experience, we see the struggle, challenges and barriers.
“Practitioners need to use tactics that work to build internal support for CSR.”
For the fifth year running a lack of organisational support was rated the greatest obstacle to CSR success.
“There seems to be a missing link between leadership and organisational buy-in,” Black said.
“But responsible leadership is essential to securing organisational support and achieving long-term CSR success.”
The Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility is a leader in CSR research, learning and strategy. They help organisations identify and understand their social responsibilities and impact and develop strategies to reduce social risks and improve both performance and social responsiveness.
The full report outlines a range of CSR tactics that work and can be downloaded here.