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  • Volume Eight, Number Seven: October 2003

    Canadians Value Social Responsibility in Business, says Poll.

    CPP News

    Social justice and responsibility may not be a favourite of BC’s business elite and corporate media, the a growing number of Canadians are seeing it as a key factor in doing business, says a recent poll.

    The findings of the polling firm Ipsos-Ried earlier this month says over three quarters of Canadians think most companies practice some degree of social responsibility, but could do better, as most feel the profit motive takes too much of a priority over social and community interests. Only 14 per cent think Canadian firms are doing a very good job.

    “The importance of corporate social responsibility is underlined by the finding that a majority of Canadians have rewarded or punished a company for their corporate citizenship in the last year,” says Ipsos-Ried’s press statement upon release of the poll. “More than half (55 per cent) say they have consciously decided to buy a product or service from one company over another because they felt the company was a good corporate citizen. About the same number (52 per cent) have consciously refused to buy a product or a service from a company not conducting business in a socially responsible way.”

    The poll says, while Canadians clearly want to see companies operate in a socially responsible manner, this doesn't prevent them from questioning the motives of companies who undertake these socially responsible activities. The public thinks these companies are motivated more by their bottom line (68 per cent) than because they care about being socially responsible (29 per cent).

    “Perhaps because of this cynicism, stories about good corporate behaviour are more interesting than stories about bad corporate behaviour,” Ipsos-Ried said. “More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Canadians say that a corporate social responsibility news story about a company that has been singled out for a very positive action is more likely to grab their attention than a story about a company that has been singled out for a very negative action (29 per cent).”

    Although the definition of “social responsibility” varies from agency to agency or sector to sector, the general standards are measured in terms of respectful labour relations, including respect for, or interest in, unions and workplace democracy, healthy ecological practices, contribution to community development and activities, respect for human rights and liberties, accountability to consumers and the public and support for social equity.

    The poll was conducted between August 19 and 21 of this year of a cross-section of 1,000 Canadian adults. These data are statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional, age and sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to 2001 Census data. The pollster estimates the findings have a 95 percent certainty factors that the overall results are within 3.1 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled.


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