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Missing Link For NZ Businesses

News Release
27 February 2008

Social Responsibility Policies A Missing Link For NZ Businesses - Survey

Privately-owned New Zealand companies are great when it comes to donating to good causes, actively promoting health and well-being among staff, and allowing flexible work time – but they are near the bottom rung on the international ladder when it comes to having a formal corporate social responsibility policy in place.

The latest information from the Grant Thornton International Business Report shows New Zealand in the bottom five on the global ladder when its privately-held businesses are asked if their various corporate social responsibility practices are contained in a written policy incorporating the concept of responsible business practice.

The accountancy and business advisory firm’s international survey reveals that only 35% of such businesses in New Zealand have a formal CSR policy, putting it among other cellar dwellers Greece (36%), Poland (35%), Taiwan (30%) and Vietnam (30%).

Australia sits midway on 44% with Mainland China (74%) topping the ladder, followed by Mexico (69%) and Brazil (68%).

New Zealand excels, however, in donating to community causes and charities, with 91% indicating they give to good causes, headed off in this activity by only the United States (94%). It also scores highly when it comes to allowing flexible working, on 86%, trailing only Germany (90%).

And it is also very good at actively promoting health and well-being among the workforce.

“New Zealand’s private businesses can hold their head up high in many respects when it comes to practising corporate social responsibility,” said Grant Thornton New Zealand spokesman Peter Sherwin.

“When it comes to formalising their policies, then that is another question, however. Maybe it is the Kiwi way, doing more by action than theory.

“It may also reflect the fact that many privately-held New Zealand businesses just do not have the resources to formulate their CSR activities in an official document. There is a missing link, but actions speak louder than words and they should be given credit for what they do well.

“Overall, it is very pleasing to see they score so highly in the areas that they do.”

Mr Sherwin said that it was interesting to see what the drivers were for CSR activity.

In the case of New Zealand, 82% saw recruitment or retention of staff as being very important or important in driving their ethical practices – the fourth highest score on the international table in this respect. The next most important driver was cost management, with public attitudes to their companies or brand-building as the third. In Australia, the order of the drivers was the same, but less pronounced.

“Saving the planet” was not considered one of the key drivers of CSR initiatives, either in New Zealand or the rest of the world – in New Zealand only 37% saw it as very important or important, with the global average at 40%. In this category, Canada rated highest at 84% and the United States lowest at 21%.


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