Where is CSR today?

Corporate social responsibilitySustainable sourcing

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is now a major item on the CEO’s agenda; no annual report is complete without making reference to CSR performance. And yet, we hear it time and again in our procurement community: CSR is complex and can mean different things, it can be expensive and is hard to measure, and why does it matter anyhow?


To address these concerns and others, we just launched Corporate CSR Motives and Objectives, which forms the first report in a four-part series entitled Corporate Social Responsibility in Procurement. The research is based on a survey of 296 senior procurement and CSR/sustainability executives around the world conducted in Q3 2012. Report I provides an introduction to CSR, the motivations behind companies considering CSR activities and an overview of the basic considerations companies have put into place. Key finding of the research include:

  • ’CSR’ remains the buzz word: 55% of respondents use the term ’CSR’ when referring to the ethical and environmental performance of their business. Only 30% call it ’Sustainability’.
  • Nobody wants to be in the minority: The majority (89%) already have a CSR policy in place, and of those most have implemented it within the last six years, likely propelled by CSR scandals that made it in the news.
  • The customer is the primary catalyst: 61% of companies fear that customers will abandon them for behaving unethically. This is especially true for companies in B2C markets where customers "own" their brand reputation.
  • Monetising CSR remains a challenge: Companies still underestimate the business opportunities CSR represents; only 36% use CSR to that extent even though there is evidence that customers are willing to pay a premium in certain product categories.
  • Seeking environmental qualification: Companies care about CSR certifications to stand out from the crowd. Even though the list is long and varied, 80% of companies today are ISO 14001 certified.

A further three reports will focus specifically on procurement’s role in CSR, including Part II (CSR standards), Part III (Functional practices) and Part IV (Enforcement techniques).


A free copy of the Executive Summary of Part I can be obtained here. Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions, or like to share ideas: m.slowik@procurementleaders.com.

Maggie Slowik
Posted by Maggie Slowik

Want to learn more? Please fill in your details to hear from us.