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Many small businesses are unaware of Corporate Social Responsibility, their customers are unlikely to ask about CSR, and they have little idea where to turn for information about CSR according to a nationwide survey published today by leading research company Critical.

The survey of 350 small and medium-sized business showed that 43% were unaware of CSR, even after being prompted by researchers with a definition, and that 86% had never been asked to provide details of their CSR policy. 72% of small businesses do not have a CSR policy, and most of these (56%) have no plans to implement one. Over a third (38%) of companies who are unlikely to introduce a CSR policy felt that they were too small to be concerned with CSR, and 16% said they didn’t have time for CSR. Half (52%) of all businesses said that they are worried about the costs of CSR, and many do not know where to turn for information about CSR.

Sarah Connis, research director at Critical, says: “When asked about where to find out information about CSR, we were surprised that small businesses’ most popular starting point would be Google (21%) followed by their local council (14%). Only 5% suggested government websites despite the launch of a dedicated CSR website by the government and over a quarter (26%) said they would not know where to look.”

*Mixed opinion among SMEs*

The survey highlighted mixed views about CSR within small and medium-sized businesses. Over a third (37%) said that companies concerned with CSR are no more likely to be more successful than those who are not, and 31% felt that CSR is a gimmick. When asked to name a company who provides a good role model for CSR, 5% mentioned unprompted Marks and Spencer, yet 71% of companies said they could not think of any company.

However, small businesses are adopting CSR, including using local suppliers (80%) and supporting local charities/initiatives (72%) and increased recycling (65%),. The majority of small businesses reported that they planned to adopt various environmental measures in the coming 12 months, including increased recycling (70%), use of recycled or sustainable materials (67%) and regular monitoring of their environmental impact (59%). One third (34%) said that they have offset some or all of their carbon emissions, and 46% said that they planned to do so.

*Customer demand driving CSR*

Sarah Connis says: “Customer demand appears to be the driving factor for CSR within small and medium sized businesses. Although only just over half (54%) reported that they were increasingly concerned about CSR because their customers were, there is a strong correlation between being asked about CSR, and having a CSR policy. Most (70%) of companies who had been asked about CSR said they have a CSR policy, whereas most (71%) of those who had not been asked, have no CSR policy.”

Over a quarter of all small and medium sized businesses (28%) have a specific CSR policy and a further 8% have one under development. Nearly two thirds (62%) of businesses with over 100 employees already have a plan in place. One in seven (14%) businesses have been asked to provide details of their company’s policy on CSR, with larger companies are more likely to be asked. Four out of ten (41%) of companies with more than 100 employees have been asked. Companies with less than 6 employees are least likely to have been asked (10%).

*Role models*

Asked about which specific companies and organisations provide good role models in CSR, small and medium sized businesses rated the RSPB most highly, closely followed by Marks and Spencer. The top ten most highly rated organisations, from a list of 20 provided, were as follows:

Agree are good role models

1 RSPB - 58%
2 Marks and Spencer - 58%
3 John Lewis / Waitrose - 55%
4 Sainsburys - 52%
5 Tesco - 44%
6 Virgin - 40%
7 The Government - 30%
8 Co-operative Bank - 30%
9 Shell - 28%
10 British Gas - 27%

Notes for editors:

Critical is one of the UK's leading independent telephone market research agencies, with offices in Luton, Watford and Wallingford. Critical specialise in business to business research amongst SMEs. Critical was set up in 1991 by Derek Farr and Dennis Krushner, two of the pioneers of Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing market research techniques.
Website www.critical.co.uk

*Survey methodology*

A stratified random sample of small and medium sized UK businesses were interviewed via telephone (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) and included businesses of varying sizes and industrial sectors from different regions. The majority of interviews were conducted with businesses with less than 100 employees. A small number of online interviews were also completed and results were added together with the telephone data.

The telephone interviewing was carried out between April 26th and May 11th. 350 interviews in total were completed. 322 were telephone interviews with businesses across the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) and 18 interviews were self completed online.
In all cases the respondent was the person who made decisions in the company, i.e. Managing Director, Partner, Director, Departmental Managers.

Results have been re-weighted by region and company size to make overall results representative of UK businesses as a whole. Results were weighted to targets showing estimated number of businesses according to regional and company size (number of employees) information from the Inter Departmental Business Register 2004 available on the Office for National Statistics website (www.statistics.gov.uk).

*Further information*

Please contact Red Wave Communications:

Email: critical@red-wave.co.uk
Kate Allan - 07973 218434
Ian Cundell - 07711 670893

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Red Wave Communications Ltd in the following categories: Business & Finance, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.