Banks and finance companies are doing a better job than other sectors in fulfilling their social responsibilities according to a new study of how the South African public perceives the corporate citizenship efforts of companies.
A project of SA sustainability research consultancy First Principles, the study KEEPING GOOD COMPANY draws on results of a 2011 nation-wide survey of what South Africans see as the most important issues affecting society and how they believe the private sector should respond. It also identifies consumer attitudes about which products need to be more responsible and evidence that some consumers are willing to make purchase decisions based on environmental and social criteria. The South Africa survey is part of a syndicated global survey carried out in over 25 countries and led by international research consultancy, GlobeScan Incorporated.
The survey explores a range of strategic areas critical to enhancing trust in business, including:
- Expectations and views of companies
- Ethical consumerism
- Benchmarking the corporate responsibility performance of 12 sectors
- Rating companies (good and poor performers)
- How sustainability efforts contribute to employee morale and shareholder interest
Key findings from the study include:
- The financial sector is viewed as the most socially responsible among 12 sectors. Food is also highly regarded.
- Coca Cola and MTN are named far more regularly than other companies as being the most socially responsible.
- Government tops ratings of organizations “not fulfilling their social responsibilities”, followed closely by alcohol, tobacco, oil and mining companies.
- Just under half of those surveyed report they have considered rewarding a company they feel is socially responsible, and 20% have actually done so in the past year
- South Africans have much higher expectations for ‘operational responsibilities’ than ‘citizenship responsibilities’. This means that consumers want to know about how products are sourced and produced, in addition to showing they have invested in the community.
- South Africans are divided when it comes to the area where they feel companies can have the biggest impact in community investment, but education/training is mentioned by a plurality.
Leading and lagging sectors
South Africans rate the corporate responsibility performance of sectors quite differently. 50% of respondents rated banks and finance companies as “Among the very best”, compared with 42% for Telecommunications companies and Media companies respectively. Despite the strong social responsibility ratings, banks and insurance companies still have work to do. Respondents cited financial products as being among the products and services they would most like to see become more responsible.
According to the study, tobacco and alcohol companies have the worst reputations when it comes to corporate citizenship. 21% of respondents said tobacco companies were “among the very worst”, while beer companies received the next worst rating (15%), followed by alcohol beverage companies (12%). Mining companies received the largest “indifferent” rating (24%) and Oil/Petroleum received the most mixed views, with 28% of respondents perceiving their performance as average.
Priority Issues for Community Investment
The global survey captures public opinion around the world on the priority issues that companies should be focusing their time and resources on addressing through their corporate citizenship programs.
Education and training stood out for most countries in the global survey, including South Africa, as the top issue that companies should address through their corporate citizenship efforts. Sizable portions of South Africans also point to crime/security, poverty and health as areas for companies to make a contribution.
Join the Research Program
In-depth results will be available to companies on a subscription basis. KEEPING GOOD COMPANY combines public opinion research and practical guidance to help South African companies focus their corporate citizenship efforts. It is a valuable tool for
- Assessing the needs of stakeholders
- Identifying sustainability priorities
- Evaluating the effectiveness of corporate branding and communications efforts
This research is part of an international annual study conducted by GlobeScan. It is the oldest and most rigorous syndicated global survey research programme covering sustainability issues as they relate to corporate reputation and doing business in today’s economy. With 12 years of tracking on a full range of societal and business issues across 25 countries, it is an unparalleled resource.
A total of 1,000 South Africans, from both urban and rural areas, were surveyed between December 2010 and January 2011. The fieldwork was carried out by Frontline Research in accordance with SAMRA (South African Marketing and Research Association) and ESOMAR (the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research) standards.
The South Africa sample includes LSM’s 1-3, 4-6 and 7-10, across South Africa’s nine provinces and the research was conducted in Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English.
Overall results are accurate to within 3.1 percent standard error at 95% confidence.
For more information or media interviews, contact:
Louise Gardiner, Managing Director
First Principles Sustainability Services
Cape Town, South Africa
+27 21 701 0556, (Mobile: +27 72 615 9780), firstname.lastname@example.org
First Principles is a sustainability research and advisory firm based in Cape Town, South Africa, and the South African agent for Globescan Incorporated.
Frontline Research is a full-house research facility adhering to SAMRA (South African Marketing and Research Association) and ESOMAR (the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research) standards. For more information, visit www.firstprinciples.org
GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy specialzing in reputation management and sustainability strategy for global companies and multilateral organizations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco. www.GlobeScan.com