All Articles Leadership Management Are brand reputation and cost savings in competition in CSR strategies?

Are brand reputation and cost savings in competition in CSR strategies?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability — tracks feedback from more than 17,000 CSR leaders. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter. We often have guest experts in the field analyze the results; this week, it is my turn.

Last week, we asked: Where does the budget for your CSR communications or stakeholder-engagement program come from?

  • Corporate communications/public relations: 36.36%
  • My department: 27.27%
  • Executive team: 18.18%
  • Marketing: 9.09%
  • Human resources: 9.09%
  • Legal: 0%

Are brand reputation and cost savings in competition? It used to be that CSR strategies dealt with building brands and fulfilling regulatory requirements. Today, with constrained budgets, many companies turn to CSR as a way to reduce costs. (See KPMG’s CSR progress report.) The fact that nearly 40% of respondents said their CSR budget still comes from the public relations or communications department makes me think that brand is still a driving force behind CSR, and perhaps the idea of also using it to save costs has not hit some radar screens. The 18% of respondents who fund their CSR initiatives from the executive team’s budget are probably on the right track, because it is the responsibility of the top echelon to hold down operating costs while maximizing business success.