‘Microsoft has best global CSR reputation’

Microsoft has been named as the company with the best reputation for corporate social responsibility for the second year in a row, but consumers’ perceptions of the number of companies they trust to actually deliver their CSR programmes overall has “dramatically” dropped since last year.

RepTrak last 4 years

The IT company topped Reputation Institute’s Global CSR RepTrak 100 study ahead of The Walt Disney Company, which overtook Google this year to take the second place spot (see tables below).

Microsoft gave more than $900m in cash and software to nonprofits worldwide last year, reduced its carbon emissions by 30 per cent per unit of revenue compared with 2007 and made the company’s biggest ever investment in overall employee compensation, according to its 2012 citizenship report.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of global consumers are willing to recommend companies that are perceived to be delivering on their social responsibility programmes, yet they only believe 5 per cent of companies to actually be delivering on their CSR promises. This is a “dramatic” drop on the previous year, when consumers believed 12 per cent of companies were delivering on their CSR programmes.

While the top 100 companies in the study spend $50m a year on average on CSR activities, the report suggests they are not getting their messages across to consumers. More than half (55-61 per cent) of consumers are neutral or not sure if those companies can be trusted to be good corporate citizens, behave ethically nor are appealing places to work that treat their employees well.

CB Bhattacharya, E.ON chair professor in corporate responsibility at the European School of Management and Technology in Germany, says: “Unfortunately, corporate responsibility is still equated to philanthropy in many organisations and hence, given short shrift when it comes to strategic formulation and implementation. Although the top 100 companies all have well developed websites detailing their corporate responsibility initiatives, how many of them do rigorous research to find out how their key stakeholders view these same initiatives?”

The Reputation Institute says the results from its study enable companies to determine a business value from their CSR programmes, which could encourage brands to invest more in the area. It claims that for every 5 points a company improves its CSR perception on its scale, recommendations increase by 9 per cent.

Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, says: “One of the main critiques of the CSR field is the lack of data to prove the ROI on activities. Now that the CSR field has grown up from being a feel-good community to having major impact on business value, it’s time to move from feelings to facts.”

Reputation Institute’s 2013 Global CSR RepTrak 100 study surveyed more than 55,000 consumers from 15 countries.

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