Businesses are suitably nervous about claiming environmental or social or ethical credentials which they can’t defend. They’re generally aware of the need to walk the walk before talking the talk. They’re universally fearful of the unwanted attention of persistent campaigning NGOs, and justifiably concerned at the potential for reputational risk. At the same time, The Body Shop happened. Ben & Jerry’s happened. Interface happened. Plan A is happening. And evidence exists, hard evidence, of CR’s ability to deliver many of the traditional benefits of sponsorship, lifting sales (with plenty of caveats), engaging consumers and creating brand loyalists, driving employee engagement, supporting business ability to recruit and retain the best talent, generating new revenue streams, driving innovation and influencing stakeholders from academics, analysts and activists (to use Adidas phrasing) to government leaders ( to use Microsoft’s).
We were curious.
So we enquired.
We interviewed 50 directors of CR, CSR, corporate citizenship, sustainability, social investment, across a wide range of business sectors, predominantly from Europe, but also from the USA – an impressive list of global brands including Microsoft, SAP, BASF, Interface, BP, Adidas and many more. We spoke to the leading specialists in the field, globally respected thought leaders like Maria Sillanpaa, Wayne Visser, and Alan Andreasen. We also spoke to some of the NGOs who have been most spectacularly successful in partnering with corporates.
We asked all of these: what is preventing more businesses from working more pro-actively, more strategically and more publicly with CR?
We combined this with a quantitative study aimed at those with an interest in the relationship between CR and marketing; people with organisational responsibility for Corporate Responsibility, Citizenship or Sustainability. The result is our whitepaper on Corporate Responsibility.