Eurobarometer survey reveals divided opinions in Europe on CSR
16 April, 2013
A new Eurobarometer poll suggests that European citizens are divided in their opinion of the corporate world, with a significant proportion believing that companies are paying less attention to their impacts on society and the environment than they did 10 years ago. The survey, commissioned by the European Commission, Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry, questioned European citizens and other selected nationalities about the influence that companies have on their societies.
The survey questioned 32,000 people in Europe, America and the developing world on a number of issues involving the way companies behave. These included citizens’ levels of interest and information about what companies do to behave responsibly, how companies in different sectors behave, whether their influence is generally good or bad, and who should take the lead in influencing companies to conduct their businesses in a more responsible way.
Approximately 52% of the European citizens questioned said that companies’ overall influence was positive, while 41% thought it was negative. In contrast, respondents living in non-European countries were more optimistic. Around 74% of Brazilians, 65% of Chinese, 62% of Indians, and 57% of those in Turkey believe their companies have taken corporate social responsibility (CSR) more seriously over the past decade.
The survey also revealed that the vast majority of European citizens (71%) believe small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) make more effort to behave responsibly than larger companies. Outside Europe (with the exception of the USA), respondents felt the opposite, with the majority believing that larger companies are more likely to behave responsibly.
The results suggest that there is an information gap in Europe. Although 79% of European respondents indicated they were interested in what companies do to manage their social and environmental impacts, only 36% said they felt informed. This compares with 69% in India, 63% in the USA, and 57% in Brazil who say they are informed about their companies’ CSR activities.