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Haven’t got time for the full document? Read the abstract here.

Over the next 24 months Bambuddha, in conjunction with the Macquarie University Graduate School of Management, will produce a series of white papers, published as a collection. These papers will highlight 100 kind companies in Australia, across various sectors. This combined with a regular awards program will encourage social and environmental innovation as part of business development and sustainability.

The goal is to demonstrate that doing good leads to better results and a company doing well.

In this first paper we investigated two areas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):

1. The relationship between doing good, and business performance

2. How Australian companies are reporting on and analysing their CSR initiatives to ensure maximum impact

To fully understand our goal, we needed to delve into what CSR means, where it comes from, and how it is viewed by business today.

By performing a literature review across both academic and corporate sources, we found the following key statements:

Surveys show that 48% of people don’t trust companies to do the right thing.

Consumers have favourable attitudes towards companies that support social causes and are more likely to buy brands that are associated with socially responsible practices.

When employees perceive their company as investing in CSR, they tend to develop higher levels of loyalty and attachment.

Companies which use their expertise and knowledge and coordinate efforts to address social and environmental challenges with NGOs, governments and society in general, are more likely to find economic opportunities that their competitors miss.

CSR reporting has become more popular, particularly in the last two decades. Several authors detailed the main reasons why companies should invest in CSR reporting and they include: brand reputation improvement, ever more vital when you consider that by 2025, millennials will make up three quarters of Australia’s workforce; CSR level improvement, as the reporting helps identify flaws and forces companies to commit to improved strategies; increased corporate performance, by identifying where resource allocation can be more efficient.

The assets that businesses bring to the table are essential for coming up with better solutions to the most concerning problems in the world: businesses know how to be cost-efficient, they define objectives and accomplish them within restrictions of time and budget, they base decisions on data analysis and master the art of negotiation.

To choose companies to take part in our initial paper, Bambuddha Group generated a list of 20 potential companies, then contacted them inviting them to take part in the case study bank. As a result of this process, nine companies agreed to participate in the Corporate Kindness Study, and you can see the results here.

Our findings from these nine studies can broadly be summed up as below:

The motivation that drives their social purpose comes from the belief that there is always a better way to do things.

In all the companies, regardless of their size, the social responsibility journey started with the passion and determination of a leader (founder, CEO) to generate social impact. This initial drive from the leaders become an essential part of the values of the organisation, that is nurtured and reinforced by the employees, creating a culture driven by purpose.

Eight out of nine companies mentioned transparency and honesty as one of the most important things for companies that wish to be perceived as kind. They agreed that it is fundamental to “practice what you preach” and recognised that this entails daily effort from all company members.

Only one of the companies responded that they do not consider that doing good gives them a competitive advantage, because they believe their clients and the industry don’t particularly perceive their CSR initiatives as beneficial for themselves. Despite this situation, the company is certain that doing good is the only way they can do business.

From our findings, small companies are making a difference for all their stakeholders, but unfortunately, there is still no efficient way to report the impact they generate.

We suggest further research on how small companies can report their impact is needed, to expand our understanding in this matter.

To read the in-depth reasoning behind all of this information, and to see how you can make your company kinder, please read the full report.