New Study Finds Big Differences in Perceptions of Success in Corporate Responsibility

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<strong>Purchase, N.Y. &mdash; April 23</strong><br />People who design and implement corporate responsibility initiatives have a more positive view of how successful they are than do the outside consultants who counsel organizations on these efforts, according to a study by Sirota Survey Intelligence, specialists in attitude research, and CRO (Corporate Responsibility Officer).<br /><br />Corporate responsibility (CR) practitioners are generally more positive than providers about how successful these efforts are in achieving their goals, helping companies to become good corporate citizens and assisting them in treating the communities in which they do business well, according to the study.<br /><br />Sirota Survey Intelligence conducted the research that includes more than 200 corporate practitioners of CR efforts and providers of CR-related services.<br /><br />CR practitioners include executives and managers who have responsibility for developing and implementing their organizations&rsquo; CR efforts. Providers of CR-related services include those who supply organizations with strategic advice and counseling, management consulting, communications solutions, research and development, training/education, advertising and public relations and other services.<br /><br />Douglas Klein, president of Sirota Survey Intelligence, presented the study&rsquo;s findings at CRO&rsquo;s Spring Conference in New York. The study is the first in a series of tracking studies by Sirota and CRO covering individuals and organizations involved in the emerging CR arena, and it suggests that CR practitioners have an opportunity to enhance further their partnerships with various constituencies.<br /><br />Among the differences between corporate practitioners of CR services and their outside providers are:<br /><br /><ul><li><strong>Achievement of CR goals: </strong>82 percent of practitioners rate their organizations favorably on their achievement of CR goals, but only 53 percent of providers say organizations&rsquo; CR efforts have attained their objectives.</li><li><strong>Being a good corporate citizen: </strong>94 percent of practitioners rate their organizations favorably on being good corporate citizens, while only 65 percent of providers grade the organizations they serve as good corporate citizens.</li><li><strong>Treating communities in which they do business well: </strong>93 percent of practitioners say they treat the communities in which they do business well, while only 65 percent of providers agree that organizations to which they supply consulting services treat their communities well.</li><li><strong>Has business-relevant CR activities: </strong>88 percent of practitioners feel that their CR initiatives are relevant to the business, while only 60 percent of organizations that supply services to them agree that they are.</li></ul><br />Discontent among the constituents of companies may be driving the big differences between CR practitioners and providers, according to Klein. &ldquo;The providers&rsquo; survey results appear to be a surrogate for other constituent groups that are affected by the companies&rsquo; CR programs. While further research needs to be conducted to validate the findings for other stakeholder groups, the gap indicates that companies hold a more favorable view of their CR efforts than those who these initiatives are supposed to benefit.&rdquo;<br />The views of CR practitioners and providers of CR-related services were closer when asked about developing partnerships with various constituencies:<br /> <br /><ul><li><strong>Partnership:</strong> Sixty-two percent of practitioners view their relationships with suppliers as partners, close to the 57 percent of providers who said organizations treat them like partners.</li><li><strong>Receiving input from stakeholders: </strong>Both practitioners and providers are less positive than in other areas about whether companies receive sufficient input from stakeholders, which is an important component of a partnership. Sixty-two percent of practitioners said their organizations get enough input from stakeholders, while only 44 percent of providers rated this favorably.</li></ul><br />Most practitioners view relationships with their other constituents as partnerships, including 74 percent who regard customers and employees as partners, and 71 percent who consider communities as partners. Customers are rated the most important constituent group by practitioners, with employees rated the next most important.<br /><br />&ldquo;To optimize the investment in and benefits from CR, a partnership among various corporate constituencies needs be created,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;The alignment between the views of multiple corporate constituencies ensures sustained business success. However, organizations have yet to achieve that alignment. By surveying the opinions of key constituents on a regular basis, practitioners can learn how to close the gap between their views and those of providers,&rdquo; Klein added. <br />

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