Skillsoft Research Finds Just 54 pc of Organisations Have a Formal CSR Plan for 2023

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New Delhi: Skillsoft, a leading platform for transformative learning experiences, released its new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Work Report, benchmarking organisations’ current CSR initiatives and highlighting areas for opportunity and improvement. Based on insights from more than 1,000 working professionals, the report found that 72 per cent of respondents’ organisations are investing more in CSR now than before the pandemic. Despite this positive trend, just over half (54 per cent) say their organisation has a formal CSR plan in place for the coming year.

As challenges surrounding ethical leadership, corporate governance, and climate change continue to rise, CSR initiatives must be top of mind for both employers and employees. In addition to demonstrating a commitment to “doing the right thing” – which the largest portion of respondents (40 per cent) said was the biggest influencer of their organisation’s CSR priorities – investing in CSR creates a halo effect of benefits, including a direct impact to the bottom line. In fact, Skillsoft found that 57 per cent of respondents who reported their organisations making an investment in CSR also reported 25 per cent or more in business growth year-over-year.

“Today’s definition of CSR is vastly different from the optional altruism of the past. Organisations must hold themselves accountable, ensuring their policies and practices benefit all stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, and the greater community,” said Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, Chief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft. “While it’s encouraging to see increasing levels of investment in CSR, organisations must make more deliberate, long-term commitments to becoming responsible businesses. This requires taking a hard look at who they are and what they stand for, while also building the right infrastructure and securing organisational commitment to turn effort into positive action that benefits the greater good.”

Skillsoft’s report revealed that the top three CSR programme priorities are diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), improving labour policies, and participating in fair trade, respectively. Despite recent devastating storms and a global pandemic, organisations’ lowest priority is disaster relief and preparedness. When asked about the top barriers to implementing a successful CSR programme, respondents cited regulations and standards, customer awareness, and reputation value, underscoring the importance of clear communication and securing cross-functional buy-in.

Additional takeaways from Skillsoft’s 2022 report include:

Lines are blurring between CSR and ESG.

  • 54 per cent of respondents said they use the terms “CSR” and “ESG” interchangeably.
  • Yet, 53 per cent say their organisation’s focus remains on CSR because it covers a broader range of issues than ESG.
  • 46 per cent say ESG efforts are replacing CSR efforts as companies face increased pressure to provide and measure against programme objectives.

The way CSR programmes are funded, led, and measured varies greatly.

  • Just 70 per cent of survey respondents say their organisation publishes an annual CSR report. Of those, 57 per cent and 43 per cent work for private and public businesses, respectively, with the former being more willing to “lift the curtain.”
  • While there is no typical “owner” of CSR initiatives, executive leadership teams (20 per cent) most commonly manage programmes, followed by HR (16 per cent) and operations (12 per cent).
  • The top three ways for measuring CSR programme success are through the health and security of employees and community members, social contributions, and greenhouse gas emissions, respectively.

There is plenty of room for improvement, with learning being the catalyst for change.

  • While a larger portion of organisations (37 per cent) report a level of CSR maturity, 11 per cent said that initiatives are still largely “ad-hoc and chaotic,” leading to internal confusion.
  • The top way organisations plan to address CSR-related issues is by offering training to employees (42 per cent), followed by committing time and people resources (34 per cent), investing in long-term plans (33 per cent), and creating authentic connections and partnerships (20 per cent).