Risk of Hollow Promises from Corporate Community Investment – Study
15 June 2016 at 11:03 am
New research by global management consultancy Corporate Citizenship reveals a sizeable gap between corporate aspirations and reality when it comes to corporate community investment (CCI).
The Corporate Citizenship report is called Hard Outcomes or Hollow Promises: Realising the True Impact of Corporate Community Investment. Based on the insights from more than 130 sustainability and corporate responsibility practitioners around the world, the study revealed that three-quarters of companies aspire to achieve long-term impact with their corporate community investment, but less than one quarter currently feel that their organisation is delivering on the promise.
The research found that less than one in four corporates were measuring their long-term impacts on the community and benefits to the business.
“CCI has grown rapidly in recent years as more companies give philanthropic donations and run employee volunteering schemes. Many CSR reports talk about ‘impact’ in the community, such as ‘transforming communities’ and ‘improving lives’. But the reality is that most companies are confused about key terms, fail to accurately measure them and don’t live up to the hype,” the report said.
The report described the “impact-aspiration” gap between what business seeks on the one hand and is able to deliver on the other.
The study suggested that the gap is caused by confusion over how and what to measure.
“A lack of clarity over what to measure, a lack of a clear approach to measurement, and a perceived lack of resources are creating barriers to effective impact measurement,” it said.
Associate director at Corporate Citizenship and the report’s author Jon Lloyd said companies needed to invest their resources where they can genuinely make a difference in the community.
“But impact cannot just be a buzzword. It requires measurement of long-term change. For many companies, that means doing things differently. It requires asking some searching questions about how best to approach community investment and what can realistically be achieved,” Lloyd said.
“In a world where more and more businesses are making such assertions, having tangible and concrete data on impact has never been more important. This focus on achieving hard outcomes, not hollow promises, is all part of an exciting new area in responsible business that we call impact for change.”