CEOs believe that customer expectations around corporate social responsibility are increasing, and CSR will play an important role in differentiating an enterprise in the future, according to IBM’s new Global CEO Study. Customers are coalescing around organizations’ CSR profile — including, but not limited to “green” initiatives — and are increasingly demanding socially-minded products, services, and even supply chains.
CEOs indicated that while customers have always cared about societal issues, those concerns are now more frequently turning into action as the more socially aware customer evaluates an enterprise’s CSR profile before making purchasing decisions.
To better understand and reach the new socially-minded customer, CEOs plan to increase their investments by 25 percent over the next three years, the largest percentage increase of any trend identified in the study.
The study shows that while increasing CEO concern about environmental issues has doubled over the past four years globally, this concern is not evenly distributed worldwide. Asia Pacific and European CEOs lead the world in focusing on environmental issues, followed by the Americas.
CEOs also revealed that CSR reputations are also an important tool to attract and retain employees. They are also recognizing that their organizations are being held mutually accountable, along with the public sector, for the socioeconomic well-being of the regions in which they operate.
Overall, the CEOs see opportunities in CSR and are using it for their competitive advantage. They indicated that CSR is critical to maintaining current market share.