FRIDAY 13 MAR 2009 1:35 PM


Deloitte survey reveals corporate responsibility failing to make impact at board level

A new survey from Deloitte has revealed that while the majority of directors of large businesses claim to understand the risks and opportunities associated with corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S), far fewer are actually embedding CR&S into their businesses.

The survey of 220 directors at companies with $1 billion or more in revenue found that 79% of believe they understand the business risks associated with CR&S and climate change, with 76% claiming to understand the risks.

"Investors filed a record number of CR&S and climate change–related shareholder resolutions in 2008 and we expect that trend to continue upward," said Chris Park of Deloitte's Enterprise Sustainability group. "Increasingly, institutional and individual shareholders want to know not only if leadership is prepared to manage risks associated with emerging regulations and increased reporting requirements on environmental and social performance. They also want more insight into leadership’s strategy for capitalising on the CR&S opportunities that will create long-term shareholder value."

Elsewhere in the research however there were indications that this board-level confidence is not being matched in practice.

Only half of the directors questioned think their boards and management are committed to addressing CR&S and climate change. Similarly 41% don’t think that CR&S is integrated with business strategy or risk management.

Just 30% of companies have set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and only a third report growing interest in CR&S issues among investors.