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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Global Leadership

Global CSR Trends in Efforts, Sectors and Specialties

Corporate support of environmental, educational and community efforts are significant, and spotty.

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The world’s best corporate citizens differ in their social responsibility actions depending on headquarters location.

75% of Japanese firms give to arts, sports or music programs
33% of U.S. companies support those initiatives.

European firms tend to focus on air pollution prevention and reduction. But giving to education is largely off their radar screens.
7% of European firms support education.
62% of Japanese companies support education.
61% of U.S. firms support education programs.

Those are some of the findings of a survey of 100 U.S. and international firms determined to be the world’s best corporate citizens, through research funded by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University. The research was done by Mary Ann Ferguson, a Page Legacy Scholar and professor of public relations at the University of Florida.
for Initiatives Research

Born out of the study is the website This web database provides easily searchable features about companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives. This resource catalogs and categorizes more than 600 corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs for 468 global companies.

The database was created as a tool for those researching corporate social responsibility. “We wanted a platform to showcase the best practices for these worldwide corporations,” said Ferguson. Features include:
  • Direct links to the catalogued CSR programs
  • descriptive list of CSR awards
  • CSR research bibliographies

Corporate Location of CSR Leaders

The study shows the practice of corporate social responsibility has a global reach.
  • 27% of corporations in the top 100 are headquartered in the United States
  • 17% in United Kingdom and Australia
  • 8% in France
  • 8% in Japan
  • 7% are in Denmark-Finland-Norway
  • 6% in Canada
  • 6% in Germany
  • 5% in Switzerland
  • 4% in each Italy, Netherlands and Sweden
  • 4% in Belgium-Spain.

Industry Sectors Supporting CSR

  • 15% had businesses in the personal and household goods industry.
  • 14% were in telecommunications or utilities, 12 percent were banks
  • 10% each were in industrial goods and industrial services
  • 10% were in technology
  • 9% in health care/pharmaceuticals
  • 9% in financial services/insurance
  • 8% in basic resources and construction
  • 4% in oil/gas/chemicals
  • 9% were categorized as “other.”

To determine the 100 best corporate citizens, Ferguson compiled data from five independent ranking systems;

  • Dow Jones Sustainability World Index
  • FTSE4Good Global
  • Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World
  • Ethibel Sustainability Index
  • Business Ethics 100 Best Corporate Citizens

More than 600 companies were highlighted in these five lists. The 76 companies that appeared on three or more of the lists were marked as exemplary and included in the top 100. The remaining two dozen firms were determined through quota sampling.

Common Efforts in All Locations

Some social responsibility efforts were common among all geographic locations
  • monetary donations to social programs
  • disaster relief programs
  • energy conservation initiatives
  • employee volunteer programs.

Others were more geographically specific.

More than half of the firms headquartered in the United States and Western Europe had economic social responsibility programs. That contrasts with about one in five in the United Kingdom/Australia/Canada.

More than 60% of Japanese companies had programs to help conserve natural resources, while only 13 percent in the UK/Australia/Canada enacted those programs.

While participation in economic social responsibility or natural resource conservation programs is low among companies in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, they overwhelmingly More than 95 percent funded various community programs. The least supportive of community programs were corporations from Japan – only 50 percent of them dedicated resources to such programs.

The study also examined the size of communications departments to see if there was a correlation to better CSR efforts. The answer is no.

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication is a research center founded in 2004 at the Pennsylvania State University to study and advance ethics and responsibility in corporate communication and other forms of public communication. The Center annually awards up to $75,000 in small grants to support those making important contributions to the field.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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