Stakeholders Demand More Exacting Standards in Corporate Responsibility

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Expectations of good business behavior have become so strong that consumers and other stakeholders are ready to take action to penalize companies viewed as irresponsible. Visionary companies already recognize this trend of increasing interdependence between corporate and societal performance at a global level.

Investors are now more inclined in favor of companies that are aligning their business goals with the larger goals of global sustainability. According to the second annual Corporate Responsibility Survey sponsored by insurance company Aflac, in partnership with FleishmanHillard Research and Lightspeed GMI, a large majority of investors view investments in community action and philanthropy not as a waste of money, but rather as an indicator of a financially and ethically sound corporate culture.

For the survey, 1,400 respondents, including 100 corporate social responsibility executives, 100 investment professionals, and 1,200 American consumers aged 18 or above, were asked about their thoughts regarding various aspects of corporate social responsibility.

The findings of the survey reveal that three in four consumers are likely to take some negative action towards irresponsible companies – everything from social media postings to organizing boycotts. A company that is viewed as not responsible may stand to lose as much as 39 percent of its potential customer base. One in four consumers will tell their friends and family to avoid a company seen as not being responsible.

The survey also showed that 83 percent of professional investors are more inclined to invest in stock of a company that is recognized for its commitment to social responsibility. They view such initiatives as an indicator of greater transparency and honesty in operations and financial reporting, resulting in lower risk.

Although nearly 80 percent of employees believe their own employer is socially responsible, but only 41 percent believe all American companies are responsible.

According to Catherine Blades, senior VP of corporate communications at Aflac, as Millennials and Gen Zers are becoming larger players in the global economy, there is a lot of talk about companies being held to higher standards for being socially responsible.

Aflac conducted this survey to assess why companies invest in programs that support environmental sustainability, minority recruitment, community support and similar goals – and what reputational impact such programs really have on today's consumers and investors.

Source: Holmes Report

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