Sustainable Companies and Corporate Social Responsibility


Durable or corporate social responsibility (CSR) are often used as synonyms in The United Kingdom. The adoptation of such a policy  means that attention to the environment, social-ethical and profit is balanced and adapted to the expectations of the stakeholders of the company. 

A company can be classed as sustainable when it is aware that its activities focus on adding value to both people, planet and profit. It is having a careful balance between all interests and is accountable in a pro-active and transparent way. A sustainjable company is in open dialogue with its stakeholders. Companies can even go a step further and focus on new market opportunities, growth and innovation with profit for individuals, society and the environment. Now and in the future.

(image by Commercial Photographer Scotland)

Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR is the standard for doing business in the 21st century. Starting points are:

  • CSR is a comprehensive vision on entrepreneurship, the company creates value on economic (profit), social (people) and environmental (planet) area.

  • CSR is anchored in all business processes. When every business decision can be a tradeoff between different stakeholder interests: the interests of affected individuals, companies and organisations, CSR is tailor-made. For every company the CSR activities will look different. This depends on company size, sector, culture of the company and business strategy.

  • CSR is a process and not a final destination. The goals pursued will change over time and with each business decision. There will a constant search for practicable steps to incorporate social responsibility.

Consumers and B2B find sustainability in companies increasingly important 

The attitude of UK consumers with regard to sustainability has significantly improved over the past year. A lot of consumers consider sustainability during purchases. Last year that was 42%. Also a large majority of people want companies to help them in making sustainable or conscious choices, whereas only 19% believe that companies da that well. This is shown by the large-scale research in Sustainability and Consumers by GfK.

Own responsibility

The share of consumers, that say that it is important that companies are sustainable, is increased from 64% to 71% in 2016. People also recognise their own responsibility. Almost half (49%) consider sustainable aspects when purchasing products. Last year that was 42% and only 30% in 2013.

Across the board 

Whether it’s energy, white goods, financial services or food goes, it is striking that in most sectors the attention to sustainability at the purchase increases. We pay attention not only to the environment (42%), but also to animal welfare (41%) and fair trade (47%). The more positive attitude is reflected in the increasing share of consumers that actively are looking for information on sustainability when purchasing new products. One in five claim that sustainability is more important than the price-quality ratio. This was 17% in 2015. Brockwell White of GfK: “the fact that various developments point in the same direction, means that consumers are not only thinking about becoming more sustainable, but also intend to act accordingly.”

Early Adopters are feeding the positive trend

Five groups of consumers are differentiated on the basis of their attitude towards sustainability. The group of consumers that bare consious of sustainability (Drivers, Sympathizers and Early Adopters) grows from 50% to 55%. This positive trend is mainly fed by the Early Adopters. This segment increases in size from 22% to 26%. The group sceptics is reduced to 16%. “Early Adopters now form a typical mainstream audience of people, who have an eye for durability, but it should be attractive, fun or easy. If you want to reach a wide audience with sustainable propositions, this is a group to go for.”

Consumers want help from companies, but find insufficient support

While the focus on sustainability for purchases has risen, the extent to which companies engage in sustainable enterprise has in most categories remained the same, in the perception of consumers. People want companies to help them in making sustainable and conscious decisions. A large majority (56%) find that important. That is especially true in those areas where the importance of sustainability when buying is considered to be high, such as in energy, food and drink, as well as cars. But they also believe that companies are not doing enough: only 19% on average across all sectors think that companies help people to make good sustainable choices. “companies are on numerous fronts seriously engaged in CSR. It still happens very often under the radar, because they think the consumer has no interest in it. They clearly underestimate the consumer.”