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Aflac Says Recognition for CSR Is Good Business, but Not All Companies Agree


Aflac’s efforts in corporate social responsibility – which include raising $105 million for childhood cancer research, striving to ensure that its properties are Energy Star certified, and rewarding employees for volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity – have led to the insurance company being named 2017 Company of the Year by PR News Magazine.

In a press release, Aflac said its commitment to diversity, support for children and families facing cancer, concern for the environment and approach to ethics and governance is “good for business.” However, in a recent Aflac survey on corporate social responsibility, which included surveying 100 CSR executives, the company found that fewer than half focus on using CSR to drive sales (38%), social media engagement (32%), or investor interest (26%).

The survey, completed in 2016, also found that:

–38% of executives believe their company’s leaders are more concerned with looking good than being good;

–CSR executives have no single definition of what a responsible company is or does.

–CSR executives report some mixed signals about their job. While 82% agree that their company’s leadership team is 100% on board with their responsibility initiatives, 30% say a change in company leadership would improve their social responsibility initiatives, 71% report having to justify their efforts to their leadership team and 57% say it is difficult to get their programs funded.

–Half of CSR professionals in the survey said their causes should be chosen because they will be most beneficial to others, rather than to have positive business implications; however, CSR professionals that were interviewed one-on-one said CSR needs to align with business.

Aflac also said that CSR executives are less strategic than many assume: while extensively measuring CSR results is a common practice 75% of CSR execs believe that “today’s obsession with quantification” can prevent companies from pursuing efforts that could be their most impactful. In fact, the survey results say, CSR seems to be best thought of as a campaign of soft persuasion rather than a crusade to drive behavior.

Chubb Life, the global life insurance division of Chubb, is another insurance company that has been recently recognized for its sustainability efforts. Its life insurance branch in Hong Kong has been awarded as a “Caring Company” under the “Caring Company Scheme” from the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, for the 15th consecutive year, the company says. Its efforts include a Regional Day of Service, initiatives to reduce light pollution and carbon emissions, and efforts to reduce paper usage in the office.

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