October 17, 2019

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In Depth of Recession, American Business Confirm Value of Corporate Citizenship; Focus on Sustainable Products and Workforce Development, New Survey Shows

CHESNUT HILL, Mass., Sep. 23 /CSRwire/ - The 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship survey results reveal that, despite the recession, corporate citizenship practices are ingrained in increasing numbers of American businesses. Many business leaders report that attention to corporate citizenship efforts is more important in a recession. As in the 2007 survey, the most recent data show that attitudes of support for corporate citizenship are strong but there remain some gaps between those beliefs and the practices and investments of some businesses.

"Corporate citizenship is weathering the storm. Despite the economic downturn, the value of corporate citizenship is growing as companies realize greater reputational advantage," said Chris Pinney, Director of Research and Policy at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. "The survey also reveals companies are more committed to communicating about their efforts related to social issues and concern for the environment."

Barbara Dyer, President and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation, added: "As we've been flooded by announcements of business cutbacks and misconduct over these past months, trust in business dropped. Many members of the public have undoubtedly wondered if some corporations should have their citizenship curtailed or revoked. This survey shows that business leaders understand that corporate citizenship entails great responsibilities as well as extensive rights. Most are diligently working and investing toward improving their efforts to more fully meet these responsibilities."

The 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship in the United States is a joint project of the Boston College Center and The Hitachi Foundation. It is the only research of its kind to provide a comprehensive overview of small, medium, and large-sized U.S. businesses.

Highlights of the survey, include:

  • Despite upheaval in the economy, a majority of U.S. companies are not making major changes in their corporate citizenship practices. Of those who made changes 38% reduced philanthropy/giving, 27% increased layoffs, and 19% reduced R&D for sustainable products.
  • Most U.S. senior executives believe business should be more involved than it is today in addressing major public issues including health care, product safety, education, and climate change. Surveyed in June, just as the national debate on health care began to intensify, some 65 percent said business should increase its involvement in this issue.
  • Reputation was cited by 70% as a driver for corporate citizenship, tied for the top spot with “it fits our company traditions and values.”
  • The citizenship response during the recession differed between larger and smaller companies. Large companies significantly increased their investments and involvement in citizenship activities, but were more likely to impose layoffs. Small firms stayed committed to their emphasis on treating employees well by minimizing layoffs. But they significantly decreased attention to other aspects of citizenship.
  • Based on current economic conditions, 15% of companies are increasing R&D for new sustainable products; 11% are increasing corporate citizenship marketing and communications; and 10% are increasing local and/or domestic sourcing or manufacturing.
  • Half of the businesses are supporting skill development for employees making less than $40,000 annually and see these efforts as boosting productivity.
  • Only 34 percent of executives who responded to the survey say greater regulatory oversight by the federal government is an important part of solving the current economic crisis and creating a more stable economy.

Conducted by GlobeScan between June 4 and June 23 of this year, the survey queried 756 executives, 36% of whom were at small businesses (1-99 employees), 24% at medium (100-999), and 40% at large companies (1000 + employees). The biennial survey was first conducted in 2003.

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship is a membership-based research organization associated with the Carroll School of Management. It is committed to helping business leverage its social, economic and human assets to ensure both its success and a more just and sustainable world. As a leading resource on corporate citizenship, the Center works with global corporations to help them define, plan, and operationalize their corporate citizenship. Through the insights of its 350 corporate members, the Center creates knowledge, value, and demand for corporate citizenship.

The Hitachi Foundation was established as an independent nonprofit philanthropic organization by Hitachi, Ltd. in 1985. Governed by a Board of Directors composed of highly accomplished Americans, the Foundation seeks to discover and expand business practices that create tangible and enduring economic opportunities for low-wealth Americans, their families, and the communities in which they reside.

For more information, please contact:

Peggy Connolly Director of Communications
Phone: 617-522-0722
Phone 2: 617-645-5555
Jeff Rosenberg Rosenberg Communications
Phone: 301-545-1141

For more from this organization:

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship


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