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Survey: Businesses value corporate citizenship, sustainability


Washington, D.C. A new survey released late Tuesday shows that, in spite of the recession, American businesses place importance on corporate citizenship practices.

The 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship survey results, compiled jointly by Boston College Center and The Hitachi Foundation, revealed that attitudes of support for corporate citizenship are strong but there remain some gaps between those beliefs and the practices and investments of some businesses.

Specific findings included: Despite upheaval in the economy, a majority of U.S. companies are not making major changes in their corporate citizenship practices. Of those that made changes, 38% reduced philanthropy/giving, 27% increased layoffs, and 19% reduced R&D for sustainable products.

Most U.S. senior executives believe business should be more involved than it is today in addressing major public issues including health care, product safety, education and climate change. Surveyed in June, just as the national debate on health care began to intensify, 65% said business should increase its involvement in this issue.

Reputation was cited by 70% as a driver for corporate citizenship, tied for the top spot with “it fits our company traditions and values.”

Based on current economic conditions, 15% of companies are increasing R&D for new sustainable products; 11% are increasing corporate citizenship marketing and communications; and 10% are increasing local and/or domestic sourcing or manufacturing.

Half of the businesses are supporting skill development for employees making less than $40,000 annually and see these efforts as boosting productivity.

“This survey shows that business leaders understand that corporate citizenship entails great responsibilities as well as extensive rights,” said Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation. “Most are diligently working and investing toward improving their efforts to more fully meet these responsibilities.”

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