IBM CEO Survey: Large Increase of Investment in Corporate Social Responsibility Likely Over Next 3 Years

Buttonhole a CEO

CEOs worldwide plan to increase their investments 25 percent over the next three years to better to better understand and reach socially-minded customers, according to a worldwide survey of CEOs released this month by IBM’s Global Business Service Unit.

On February 22, I wrote about IBM’s case for corporate social responsibility (CSR) based on a survey of 250 CEOs. This second, larger survey of CEOs called the “Global CEO Study” tallied results from 1103 CEOs from 40 countries and 32 industries using face-to-face interviews.

That 25 percent increase in investments represents the largest percentage increase of any trend identified in the study.

Among other pertinent findings:
What does this mean to you, kind reader? It means that if CSR is important to your organization you've got another tool in the box.

It means that if you’re ever in an elevator with a CEO or have the chance to buttonhole one at, say, a charity gala, you’ve got a conversation starter. As in, ‘did you see IBM’s CEO survey?’ They found that worldwide CEOs plan on increasing CSR spending 25 percent over the next years. Does that line up with what your company is doing? Can I come see you sometime about how we might benefit one another?’

I welcome this larger survey of CEOs and am anxious to see the topline report.

While opinion surveys like this one are a coin of the realm, I’ll issue my usual wise-headed caution. Opinion surveys represent a snapshot in time. Or, to mix the metaphor, human opinion is like a river and as Heraclitus (see above) said: “You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing upon you.”

How interesting would it be to come back to those same CEOs (or their successors) three years hence and ask them to bring a spreadsheet of their actual spending on CSR?

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