Company executives believe that corporate responsibility programs can positively impact their business and help achieve strategic goals, according to a survey of more than 500 business executives conducted by Grant Thornton LLP.While conventional wisdom might suggest that these initiatives will drain the corporate coffers, only a quarter of survey respondents agreed that profits needed to be sacrificed, while three quarters believed corporate responsibility could enhance profitability. As a result, 77 percent said they expected corporate responsibility initiatives to have a major impact on their business strategies over the next several years.
Seventy-seven percent of companies anticipate more spending on environmental programs, 50 percent expect greater allocation to social responsibility programs and 45 percent say economic/governance initiatives will see more funding. Respondents felt that tax incentives, customer support, and innovative technologies were most likely to prompt companies to invest more heavily in environmental initiatives.
Other findings in the survey include:
- Nineteen percent of the companies surveyed report having a single point person in charge of all their corporate responsibility programs.
- Sixty-eight percent say they expect environmental responsibility reporting to be mandatory within the next three to five years, yet 55 percent say they have no plans to do any kind of corporate responsibility reporting.
- The four greatest obstacles to successful execution of corporate responsibility programs are: focus on quarterly earnings or other short-term targets, cost of implementation, measuring and quantifying ROI, and a non-supportive corporate culture.
- The three greatest benefits of enacting corporate responsibility programs are: improves public opinion, improves customer relations and attracts/retains talent.
- Seventy-two percent of respondents believe that government should regulate companies for their effect on the environment and 56 percent said companies should be regulated for their effect on human rights and labor practices.
- Seventy percent of respondents foresee increased government regulation for environmental responsibility in five years or less.
- Sixty-two percent believe that pressure to pursue corporate responsibility programs in the future will come chiefly from consumers (45%) and investors (21%).
- Sixty-four percent believe that the human resources department should take on social programs, 50 percent say operations should be in charge of environmental initiatives and 57 percent say finance should be responsible for economic responsibility programs.