Enterprise News

Good intentions

Sep 07 issue

An overwhelming number of companies say they take environmental and corporate responsibility (ECR) seriously, with 99 per cent rating it as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in comparison with other issues, according to a survey by accountancy firm Grant Thornton.

More surprising, perhaps, is the fact that 40 per cent plan to put their money where their mouth is, identifying ECR as the area in which they are ‘most likely to invest’ over the next year. A further 21 per cent rank it as their second or third priority out of ten possible choices (see chart below).

The survey of 200 medium- to large-sized companies shows ECR moving up the corporate agenda. While 81 per cent of businesses recycle and 64 per cent have reduced paper usage, 84 per cent run some kind of corporate responsibility initiative, from charity fundraising days (47 per cent) to allowing employees time off for voluntary work (29 per cent).

Spending levels on ECR are higher than expected, says the report. Almost two-thirds of the respondents (64 per cent) claim to spend at least five per cent of their turnover on ECR initiatives, with an average commitment per business of £2.02 million.

However, the results reveal that the money is going on ‘quick fixes’ rather than longer-term projects. While 63 per cent have taken steps to reduce energy consumption from lightbulbs, only 21 per cent have installed solar panels.

Alysoun Stewart, head of Grant Thornton’s strategic services group, comments: ‘Despite understanding the importance of ECR initiatives, it appears that many are driven by short-termism when it comes to cost, rather than recognising the medium-term benefits of investment.’