Survey shows connection between CSR and reputation

| Michelle Guo
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A corporate social responsibility (CSR) reputation survey by the Reputation Institute reveals perceptions of UK companies are lagging behind international corporates. Lego, IKEA and Microsoft were named the most responsible companies by the UK general public. Of the 10 companies perceived to have the best CSR practices, John Lewis Partnership and Rolls-Royce Aerospace were the only two that were UK-domiciled.

Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, says, “This reveals a lack of both emotional and rational connection with businesses which is unique to the UK. Across the world, companies in their home countries tend to have a stronger reputation, and this lack of reputation capital puts UK plcs at a disadvantage in their home market.”

Reputation Institute’s research also revealed that reputation drives business results: the better the reputation, the more support a company gets. For companies with an average reputation, only 12% would definitely buy the products; 28% if the reputation was strong and 76% if the reputation was excellent. Only four companies were ranked under excellent.

Nielsen says, “The impact reputation has on business success is massive, which is why the leading companies in the world are managing and measuring this asset in a systematic way. Weak CSR scores for companies who have strong overall reputations demonstrate that doing good remains difficult to communicate well enough for it to stick in the minds of consumers.”

The research also revealed a gap between actual CSR initiatives and perceived CSR performance. Furthermore, the survey showed the UK general public has a better understanding of companies’ products and services, innovation, leadership team and company performance than they do about CSR initiatives.

According to the survey, 27% of the UK general public is unaware of how companies treat their workforces, while 22% do not know what businesses are doing regarding environmental responsibility and support of good causes, and 18% are uninformed about their transparency and fair business practices.

Third-party endorsement proved to have the greatest impact on improving CSR reputation for companies with a weak reputation. Controlled communications via website, sponsored events or customer support services had the strongest impact on CSR for companies with a strong reputation.