Surveys Show CSR Trend Continues Upward

European Social Investing Survey
The results of a European-wide social investment survey, “Green, Social and Ethical Funds in Europe,” show the market is rapidly expanding. Participants included 302 financial analysts and fund managers across 9 countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The survey was conducted by Avanzi and the SiRi Group, with the support of CSR Europe and Euronext.

A third of survey respondents say they offer socially responsible investment (SRI) products now and 15 percent say they plan to introduce them. Of those that offer SRI products now, 60 percent offer them to a select group of targeted customers; only 15 percent systematically offer them to all customers. Almost half of those interviewed, though, perceive a demand for SRI products in the marketplace.

When long-term performance is the same as for conventional funds, 77 percent say they prefer an SRI fund even if returns are slightly lower in the short-term. Whereas 30 percent of respondents believe social/ environmental performance affects a company’s market value in the short term, the number increases to 86 percent when looking at long-term performance.

Easily accessible information on SRI performance is the main barrier to SRI expansion. 87 percent of respondents say companies need to communicate more and be more transparent on issues relating to SRI criteria.

CSR Table1


It’s Part of the Campaign
This annual survey is part of the European Campaign on Corporate Social Responsibility launched by business leaders in June 2001. The goal is to reach 500,000 business people and partners on CSR by 2005. The campaign originated from the Lisbon summit in March 2000, when European heads of state challenged the business community to take on CSR as a strategic part of helping Europe be “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.” SRI, considered a major driver for CSR, is one of the highlights of the Campaign.

The group points to the advance of SRI in Europe based on:

new national, European and international level indices
ground-breaking regulation on pension funds’ disclosure practices in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium
global alliances of investment research groups such as the SiRi Group – 11 investment research groups

development of a European Sustainable and Responsible Investment Forum

A new website, SRI Compass, covers all European SRI funds and indices.

For a free copy of the report:
Matteo Bartolomeo, Avanzi
Elena Bonfiglioli, CSR Europe

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Worldwide CSR Survey
According to the third Annual CSR Monitor by Environics International, which interviewed more than 21,000 people in 25 countries, an increase of almost 10 percent of respondents (from 20-29 percent) form opinions about companies based on social/environmental performance.

Chris Coulter, director of the study, says “Clearly, public trust in business is at a serious low and proactive CSR initiatives are an important way for companies to try and regain some level of public trust.”

When all the aspects of social responsibility are taken together, including labor relations, the environment and other social factors, social responsibility makes a greater contribution to corporate reputation than brand image, especially in wealthy countries. Brand still determines reputation in the developing world for the most part.

Environics also interviews “opinion leaders” – people that represent 13-15 percent of the population who most influence other citizens’ opinions. Opinion leaders tend to expect more from companies on CSR than do the general population. Environics predicts that companies will face increasing scrutiny and pressure from the general population as they follow the lead of opinion leaders, expanding the opportunities for CSR leaders.

The survey shows that companies that have strong CSR records have more motivated and loyal employees. 80 percent of large company employees say there is a direct correlation between socially responsible practices by their company and their motivation and loyalty. 80 percent of respondents say companies need to do more than make donations.

The authors estimate that up to a third of consumers around the world are actively pressuring companies to assume greater social responsibility. Surprisingly, they find that North Americans are the most demanding, followed by Europeans and Argentinians (we usually hear that Europeans are much more active).

http://www.EnvironicsInternational.com/sp-csr.asp

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