CSR is driving innovation in telecommunications, finance and insurance

Innovative corporate social responsibility practises are helping more companies than ever before to access new markets, according to the 2015 State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand Annual Review, released today by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR).

The Review, which is the largest ongoing longitudinal research into CSR in Australia and New Zealand and one of the biggest in the world, examined the stages of CSR development in organisations and the role of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). This year over 1,000 respondents participated in the research ― the highest number in its history.

The Review classified organisations into three stages of CSR maturity - Initiators, Integrators, and Innovators. “There are striking differences between organisations’ ability to use CSR to drive innovation, depending on their level of CSR maturity. Since 2012, there has been a significant jump in the number of organisations reporting that CSR helps them to access new markets. This is being driven primarily by the telecommunications, finance, and insurance industries,” she said.

Most CSOs were more optimistic about their organisation’s CSR progress than those who work outside a sustainability role. CSOs classified their own organisations as “innovators” in much higher numbers than those outside a sustainability role.

“While such a high proportion of organisations are unlikely to be objectively classified as being at the innovator stage of their CSR journey, it is certainly indicative of a more positive and aspirational outlook than last year’s survey, which is very pleasing,” says ACCSR’s Managing Director, Dr Leeora Black.

“Building strong relationships with stakeholders remains at the top of the list of the most pressing issues for CSR more generally. This was the case for organisations across all stages of CSR development,” she said.

The importance of engaging stakeholders also revealed itself in the rating of individual CSR management capabilities across the organisations surveyed. “While the research shows the CSR management capabilities vary across industries, they vary most markedly between organisations at different stages of their CSR maturity and development. This shows these capabilities really are an important indicator of an organisation’s ability to progress through these CSR milestones,” says Dr Black.

The Annual Review also revealed this year’s CSR Top Ten — the organisations that scored greater than 75% across the CSR management capabilities, as ranked by their employees. They are Arup, BHP Billiton, Disney, IAG, NAB, PwC, Sydney Water, Telstra, Teachers Mutual Bank and Westpac, with half of these organisations making the list for at least the second year running.

The 2015 State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand Annual Review was prepared in conjunction with La Trobe Business School, New Zealand Sustainable Business Council, Envirostate, Wright Communications and WME.

It is available for download from ACCSR website.

For information:

Dr Leeora Black, ACCSR Managing Director, phone 0412 163 327, email leeorablack@accsr.com.au

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