In September New Angles launched our 2017 research report ‘How CSR Is Changing Business’, co-authored with research consultancy Early Strategies in Paris. The event showcased our findings from over 130 managers from large enterprises and across all business sectors regarding the challenges and successes of integrating sustainability in their own companies
Their responses were surprising. The study revealed that mainstream business has passed a tipping point in awareness and acceptance of the business case for sustainability in the last 5 years. And that the real leaders of change for sustainability are more likely to be line managers in the middle of the hierarchy than top executives or CSR specialists.
New Angles and Early Strategies have recently presented the report’s findings to international business audiences at events in France, Belgium and the UK, mostly to people looking for ways to bridge the gap between business-as-usual and new sustainable business models.
Audience members from organisations including BNP Paribas, Symrise, Orange, Axa, L’Oréal, La Poste, Cisco, Thales, the UK Home Office and the French Ministry for Energy Transition and Solidarity contributed to plenary discussions on how to use the study findings to put CSR at the heart of business.
As many as 85% of the managers in the study said that “CSR has changed the way I do my job today” and 60% were convinced that “Change should come from everyone, everyone should own CSR.” Interestingly, 60% of respondents have seen human rights and ethics occupy a significantly bigger role in their day-to-day activity than was the case 5 years ago. Across a range of mainstream companies and management positions, CSR is no longer a specialist subject, relegated to the sidelines, but has been steadily taking centre stage.
If CSR is changing the reality of day-to-day business for middle managers, how are company leaders responding? Critically, many of our surveyed managers believe they are not. One of the central elements of consensus across our sample was that “Too many top management teams are stuck in short-term thinking and just don’t get CSR or sustainability.”