Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CSR strengthens reputation: Nielsen study

Stakeholders expect companies to focus on health, education. Seven out of 10 respondents willing to pay a premium for products and services to enable a company to fulfil its CSR commitments

Corporate social responsibility or CSR is an effective way of building goodwill for a company, reports afaqs.com quoting a study done by the Nielsen Company among stakeholders in India.

Reliance Industries, Tata Motors and Tata Steel are the companies most admired by stakeholders for their CSR initiatives, according to the latest Nielsen India Corporate Image Monitor 2008, a study designed to measure people’s perceptions of the image and reputation of India’s leading companies.

According to the study, the top three social issues that stakeholders expect companies to tackle are: better health infrastructure (50 per cent); fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, cancer and immunisation programmes (38 per cent); and primary and higher education and adult literacy (30 per cent).

“Any education or other initiative to build health infrastructure will impact the CSR reputation of an organisation significantly,” said Vatsala Pant, Associate Director, Consumer Research, The Nielsen Company.

Environmental protection is now a hygiene expectation from organisations.

“Seven out of 10 members of the general public are willing to pay a premium for products and services to enable a company to fulfil its CSR commitments. Considering the impact of CSR activities on a company’s reputation, organisations will have to plot a developmental path for CSR, integrating it with the rest of the business,” said Pant.

The study revealed that more than 50 per cent of its respondents feel that corporates are honest towards their CSR activities.

The motive behind these activities are seen as: economic and tax benefits (47 per cent), enhancing corporate reputation (45 per cent) and building a competitive advantage (30 per cent).

About 28 per cent of the total respondents thought that charity, either directly or through NGOs, is the best way to demonstrate social responsibility. Other ways of engaging in socially uplifting activities considered beneficial by stakeholders is a written CSR policy (24 per cent), actively involving employees in CSR activities (20 per cent) and community work and providing employment to needy groups (both 12 per cent).

One-third of stakeholders believe that CSR is just a publicity stunt for most corporate houses.

Some initiatives that are not spoken of openly but have a potential to yield big returns on reputation are rehabilitation (especially in times of natural disasters) and building of infrastructure (building roads/ maintaining properties).

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