CEOs prioritising corporate social responsibility


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Millennials were found to be particularly drawn to firms with robust CSR strategies

CEOs are prioritising corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a key part of their strategic vision, according to research from Boyden.

The majority (88%) of the 547 UK adults surveyed for the CEOs and the New CSR Priority report said they believed it is important for a company’s CEO to play an active role in CSR and act as a spokesperson for the company’s CSR activities.

Millennials were found to be particularly drawn to firms with robust CSR strategies, with 83% reporting that they are more likely to work for such a company. The report found that 29% across all ages believe that responsible business operations, such as the fair treatment of workers, is the most important form of CSR engagement.

Frank Krikhaar, global CSR director of Dentsu Aegis Network, told HR magazine that the results do not surprise him. "We have seen this trend grow over time and the report is timely and confirms the strength of this trend,” he said.

“In a time where many of the largest companies have sophisticated and ambitious CSR programmes, it is becoming increasingly important for the CEO to play an active role in sustainability. This ensures that CSR is not siloed and also shows that its commitment is core to the company’s culture and values.”

Krikhaar said the CEO has a key role to play in demonstrating an organisation’s values. “Now that CSR is becoming more central to organisations, it is essential that a CEO displays commitment and engagement with the issues internally and externally rather than just display corporate support with budget but no visible involvement,” he said. “Millennials and Generation Z look for leaders that display their cultures and values, as well as show the organisation is future-oriented.”

Alastair Da Costa, advisory chair of Boyden United Kingdom, said businesses are now exploring more than just profits. “CSR has evolved significantly over the past decade in the UK, and while the profit motive is still a main driver for businesses of all sizes and from all sectors behaving responsibly and ethically to your wider community has become expected,” he said.

“CSR effectively integrated into corporate strategy has huge benefits, including to the bottom line, so long as it is clear that three constituents – community, company and employees – are seen by key stakeholders as benefitting.”

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