Four of the top five [corporate social responsibility] initiatives were directly associated with people and their workplace active promotion of workforce health and well-being (71 percent of respondents); provision of apprenticeships and work experience (67 percent); promotion of diversity/equality in the workplace (64 percent) and allowing flexible working (62 percent). In many countries [...] a large proportion of respondents say they have taken action on waste management and have also acted to improve energy efficiency.Other notable areas that companies are emphasizing when deciding on a path to corporate social responsibility are strategic sourcing and procurement; continuous process improvement; logistics; and product life-cycle management. "Whether changes are made to be more attractive employers, a more appealing supplier to a large multinational or simply because of the ethical desire of the owner," all the evidence in Grant Thornton's survey findings points to businesses becoming more socially responsible. "Today, more than ever, organizations are focused on environmental and social responsibility as a strategic objective," the 2009 IBM Institute for Business Value study finds. The recent survey of 224 business leaders worldwide shows that "60 percent believe corporate social responsibility has increased in importance over the past year." Only 6 percent consider it a lower priority. Nearly all said they remain committed to incorporating principles of corporate social responsibility into their business strategies despite the global recession to improve business performance, societal contribution and reputation. Increasingly more organizations are holding themselves to a higher ethical standard considering the overall interests of society in the operations of their day-to-day business, but many of them don't know how to actually make changes that would improve both business performance and societal impact. "Corporate social responsibility (policy, program or process) is strategic when it yields substantial business-related benefits to the firm, in particular by supporting core business activities and thus contributing to the firm's effectiveness in accomplishing its mission," according to Lee Burke and Jeanne Logsdon in How Corporate Social Responsibility Pays Off. It does so by emphasizing the new idea that the purpose of corporate social responsibility within firms is for value creation. "The question that is addressed here is: under what conditions does a firm jointly serve its own strategic business interests and the societal interests of its stakeholders," Burke and Logsdon wrote. In their study, value creation is most prevalent when the following factors are considered:
- Centrality closeness of fit to the firm's mission and objectives;
- Specificity ability to capture private benefits by firm;
- Pro-activity degree to which the program is planned in anticipation of emerging social trends and in the absence of crises;
- Voluntarism the scope for discretionary decision-making and the lack of externally imposed compliance requirements;
- Visibility observable, recognizable credit by internal and/or external stakeholders for the firm; and
- Value creation identifiable, measurable economic benefits that the firm expects to receive.