Corporate responsibility is worth it, says the recent survey Corporate Responsibility in Finland 2018 by the corporate responsibility network FIBS. The majority, or 81% of the companies that responded to the survey, says that the business benefits of corporate responsibility exceed the resources used for it. This is true especially for large companies with a turnover of more than 200 million, 88% out of which now see the benefits as exceeding the investment. The same number for smaller companies is 73%.
“The results tell us that corporate responsibility has clearly changed from charity to core business. This is largely thanks to the consumers, investors and other stakeholders of the companies. The demand for responsible products and services has increased year by year, and the companies that have actually listened to their customers and invested systematically in corporate responsibility by developing their procurement practices, for example, are now beginning to see the results of their work in the bottom line,” says FIBS’s Leading Specialist Siru Sihvonen.
73% of the companies that responded to the survey report that they take corporate responsibility criteria into account in their own purchasing, and nearly every other company invests in combating child and forced labour. As many as 85% of the companies that responded to the survey (compared to 65% in 2017) have an ethical code of conduct that covers all of their activities. Most of them have also drawn up a code of conduct for their subcontractors.
Corporate responsibility is in the management team – the people responsible for it are not
As the benefits of corporate responsibility are materialising, the subject has also become increasingly more interesting for the top management of companies: 78% of companies report that they discuss corporate responsibility issues in the management team. Nevertheless, only every other manager or director in charge of corporate responsibility is included in the discussions. This happens despite the fact that the companies place a great deal of weight on the views of corporate responsibility experts.
“Despite the good direction of development, corporate responsibility still seems to be primarily a support function for companies,” Siru Sihvonen says. “Another question is where corporate responsibility will eventually find its real home within organisations. Will we see increasingly more influential heads of corporate responsibility in future, or will corporate responsibility be integrated into the business as a whole so that it becomes a part of every manager’s work and way of thinking? This will be one of the interesting developments in the coming years.”
Companies primarily take a stand on social issues linked to their own activities
The survey theme of the year investigated the scope and themes of corporate advocacy by companies.
Most of the companies that participated in the survey (61%) are not afraid to take a stand on social issues, provided that they are linked to their own business. However, only 14% stated that they would take a stand on social issues essential to their values, and just 6% would take a stand on social challenges that were not directly linked to their core business.
“Consumers expect companies to take a stand, and the traditional policy of cautious comments often leaves companies outside the discussion. This means losing an important way of making the company’s real values and operating culture known, which could also be an important asset in recruitment for many”, Sihvonen says.
Companies have commented on a large variety of themes depending on the field; the most commonly mentioned themes include climate change, circular economy, employment, energy policy, digitalisation and equality.
FIBS’s survey Corporate Responsibility in Finland 2018 is the most extensive telephone survey in the field. The survey offers a comprehensive overview of the practices, challenges and future outlook of the corporate social responsibility-related activities of large and medium-sized Finnish companies. The survey has been conducted every year starting from 2013.
In the 2018 survey, the participants included 185 managing directors/CEOs, heads of corporate responsibility and experts from the thousand largest companies in Finland (FIBS’s member companies and the database of Suomen Asiakastieto Oy). The sample fulfils the criteria of a reliable sample. The survey has been mainly carried out through telephone interviews. The interviews were conducted from 16 January 2018 to 20 April 2018. The survey, commissioned by FIBS, was conducted by T-Media.
Siru Sihvonen, Leading Specialist, tel. +358 40 552 6933, email@example.com
Questions concerning the implementation of the survey: Sari Maunula, Research Director, T-Media, tel. +358 50 409 1543, firstname.lastname@example.org