Despite the recession, U.S. businesses continue to focus on corporate citizenship practices, according to a study by Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship and The Hitachi Foundation. Fifty-four percent of business leaders report that attention to corporate citizenship efforts is even more important in a recession.
The study, 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship in the United States, reveals that the majority of U.S. companies are not making major changes in their corporate citizenship practices. Among those which made changes, 38 percent reduced philanthropy/giving, 27 percent increased layoffs, and 19 percent reduced R&D for sustainable products.
Based on current economic conditions, 15 percent of companies are increasing R&D for new sustainable products; 11 percent are increasing corporate citizenship marketing and communications; and 10 percent are increasing local and/or domestic sourcing or manufacturing, according to the report.
The findings also show that executives believe business should have a greater role in solving problems in health care, product safety, education, and climate change, but dismiss the need for greater regulatory oversight by the federal government. 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.
Researchers say reputation was cited by 70 percent of respondents as a driver for corporate citizenship, tied for the top spot with “it fits our company traditions and values.”
The report also reveals significant expansion of environmental sustainability efforts (greening of products, services and operations), and increasing integration of corporate citizenship into the business strategy, with 75 percent of CEOs leading the agenda and 40 percent of all companies (65 percent for large companies) with a team or individual assigned to work on corporate citizenship issues.