Study: Firms Want To Be Green But Don’t Know How

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Businesses need better data about corporate social responsibility, says an IBM study

Businesses appreciate the importance of coporate social responsibility and sustainable approaches to technology but many admit to not having the right information about how to assess their corporate impact or how to proceed with improving it.

Acccording to the second annual global corporate social resonsibility survey from IBM released this week, there are gaps between many businesses’ green and sustainable goals and their abillity to achieve them.

For example only 19 percent of the 224 companies surveyed said that they are collecting data on CO2 emissions weekly or more often. “The rest are collecting it no more than monthly, and most only quarterly — ample perhaps for meeting government or stakeholder demands for information, but not nearly enough to make systemic changes that would reduce environmental impact,” the report stated.

According to IBM, collecting and analysing the right environmental and ethical data frequently is key to being able to make better decisions, work with suppliers, and engage with customers.

“Our survey participants clearly understand that integrating CSR considerations into their business strategies is essential to their growth and performance,” said Eric Riddleberger, IBM’s business strategy consulting global leader. “But it’s also pretty obvious many of them don’t know what they need to know to actually make changes that would improve both business performance and societal impact.”

Despite the current global recession, the survey findings revealed that 60 percent of respondents believe CSR is more important to their businesses now than it was a year ago, with only 6 percent saying it was less important.

Other key findings of the IBM survey were:

  • 87 percent of executives said they are focusing CSR activities on improving efficiency, and 69 percent say they are using CSR to help create new revenue opportunities.
  • Only 30 percent are collecting data frequently enough to make strategic decisions that address inefficiencies across eight major categories – CO2, water, waste, energy, sustainable procurement, labour standards, product composition and product lifecycle. Twenty-four percent are collecting this information only monthly and 32 percent no more than quarterly.
  • 29 percent aren’t collecting any data at all from their supply chains. Eight in 10 aren’t collecting supplier data for CO2 and water, and six in10 aren’t checking supplier data for labour standards.
  • 65 percent say they still don’t understand their customers’ concerns about CSR issues. And 37 percent aren’t conducting any research on the topic.