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Large numbers remain unable or unwilling to name a socially responsible company

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At GlobeScan, a significant amount of our work is carried out with sustainability practitioners. In our conversations with clients and respondents alike, we see many companies cited as examples of best practice in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In the course of these conversations, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that vindication of successful sustainability should come in the form of public recognition.

As can be seen, significant numbers of survey respondents around the world cannot or will not name a single socially responsible company when asked, and this proportion appears to be rising in many countries.

This is most evident in Greece, where over three quarters (76%) do not name a socially responsible company. This figure is up significantly since 2010. Whilst that country’s economic travails could explain this rise, it is interesting to note Spain has seen the proportion of people unable or unwilling to name a responsible company fall (to 17%) despite also experiencing economic turmoil.

Another notable change is in China, where the proportion of people who do not name a responsible company has more than halved; possibly due to the emphasis placed on CSR by firms keen to carve out a market share in the booming Chinese economy.

It is difficult to find general factors at work behind the significant volatility shown in these figures over the past two years. However, the simple fact that recognized leadership in CSR can ebb and flow at such a rate is in itself instructive. For the CSR professional, this shows the extent to which the public needs to see a long-term commitment to fulfilling social and environmental responsibilities.

Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2012 

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  • Rad 15 March 2013

    This is not surprising. In general, most companies are paying lip service to Social Responsibility and members of the public are seeing right through it. Too many attempts at CSR have no authenticity.

  • Costas Kataras 16 May 2013

    What you are suggesting, in other words, is that the most socially responsible companies in the world are in Kenya and Nigeria and the less socially responsible in UK, Canada, etc (of course according to the respondents) ? How you can explain that ? You must find this very hard...

  • Robin Miller 17 May 2013

    It's a valid observation. We do know from experience that different cultures respond to survey questions in different ways. We find that there are some countries where people prefer to make any suggestion rather than saying 'I don't know' in response to a question, and these cultural biases may be at play here in the response pattern you've identified. However, we've also observed that the corporate world in general is much more highly regarded and trusted in developing nations than it is in the West. Admittedly it isn't clear-cut in this case, but on the whole, the countries with the largest numbers unable to name a socially responsible company tend also to be middle to high–income nations.

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