New Study: Consumers Demand Companies Implement CSR Programs

December 15, 2010 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

By James Epstein-Reeves, Do Well Do Good

Would you leave your job if your company did things contrary to your values? Do consumers really expect companies to do CSR initiatives? How does an “average” company become considered a “good” company? Moreover, how does a “good” company get to be considered a leader in sustainability?

These are some of the questions answered in my company’s two public opinion surveys that were published today. We created two reports, one that focuses on consumer behavior, attitudes and awareness about cause marketing and another on consumer and employee perspectives on CSR issues. Here are some of the highlights:

65% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment
  • More than 88% of consumers think companies should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and the environment
  • 83% of consumers think companies should support charities and nonprofits with financial donations.

We also looked at the extent to which consumers and employees will act on their values. For example, the average American consumer will drive nearly 11 minutes out of their way to buy a cause-marketing product. Relating more directly to CSR:

  • 83% of employees would seriously consider leaving their job if their employer used child labor in sweatshop factories
  • 65% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment
  • 32% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company gave no / little money to charity

Interestingly, there isn’t much difference between the population segments we looked at in the survey: men, women, and moms. The general pattern we saw with these different segments was that men were very supportive of CSR and cause-marketing initiatives, women were even more so. The mom subset was even more supportive than women in general.

The surveys also serve as a “playbook” for companies already engaged in cause marketing and corporate social responsibility programs. For example, 35% of consumers dislike being asked to donate to charities at the register. Instead companies will have better luck getting consumers to participate in a cause-marketing program if an employee explains why the cause is important or if the company offers matching funds for donations.

We found that consumers have basic expectations about recycling programs and preventing the employment of child labor. The survey outlines more than 17 different social and environmental initiatives consumers expect of “good companies” and companies that consumers consider leaders.

So for example, a company can earn “good company credits” in the eyes of consumers by measuring and reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, designing and building a few “green” buildings/stores, and by being honest and transparent about mistakes the company makes in the environmental realm. A company can earn even more good company credits by using green energy, making specific and well-defined environmental goals public, regularly contributing money to charity, and educating customers on how they can improve the environment or make a difference in their community.

To become considered a leader, however, the company should mandate the purchasing of only “green energy,” and mandate that all of its operations will build green buildings/stores. On the social side, it should allow employees to volunteer with pay during company time.

The Summary Reports of the two surveys are available for free on the Do Well Do Good web site:

Entry filed under: Nonprofit Research, Resources You Can Use!. Tags: , , , , , , .

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