Brand reputation key to CSR

08 November 2011

NEW YORK: Enhancing the reputation of a company or its brands are the primary reasons to report on corporate social responsibility among the world's biggest firms.

KPMG, the consultancy, surveyed over 3,400 organisations globally, including the 250 largest brand owners overall, and the 100 businesses with the highest revenues in 34 individual countries.

It found that 95% of the top 250 firms now issue reports on their corporate responsibility (CR) activities, up by 14% on 2008.

By contrast, 64% of the 100 premier enterprises at the national level provide formal publications about this area, peaking at 100% in the UK and 99% in Japan, versus 20% in India and 18% in Israel.

KPMG's poll also discovered that reputation and brand considerations were the main motivation for reporting on this matter for 67% of the 250 leading operators, an improvement on 55% in 2008.

Ethical factors were cited by a further 58% of respondents, down from 69% in 2008, during which time employee engagement slid from 52% to 44%.

Innovation and learning posted 44% in 2011 and 55% in 2008, risk management was unchanged on 35%, and access to capital or increased shareholder value accrued three percentage points, to 32%.

Economic considerations logged 32%, compared with 58% three years ago, while 22% of the sample suggested market share gains were likely to result from this process, a rating that had remained flat.

Some 62% of the 250 major corporations now offer green or sustainable products, falling to 45% of the 100 biggest businesses in the 34 countries studied.

More broadly, 47% of the 250 elite global companies had derived financial value from these efforts, either through higher sales, cost savings or growing market share. Just 33% of the 100 top national players adopted this view.

Reporting rates also varied depending on revenues, as 92% of firms with annual sales in the $50bn and $500bn range engaged in this activity, falling to 48% for their counterparts yielding less than $1bn.

"CSR has moved from being a moral imperative to a critical business imperative," said Wim Bartels, global head of KPMG's Sustainability Assurance. "This also presents an opportunity for smaller companies to leverage the benefits of CR reporting as a financial and reputational differentiator."

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff