NZ businesses “immature” in CSR

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While most businesses the world over have now recognized the benefits of CSR, it seems New Zealand organizations still have room to improve – that’s the word from one industry leader who recently judged the HRINZ Award for Corporate Social Responsibility.

“I think it’s just an immature market really,” Michele Walls told HRM. “Having listened to a speaker from France who’s a world expert in this area, there are things that are happening in Europe that aren’t quite happening here.”

Walls was part of the judging team that selects finalists and decides on the eventual winner but despite numerous applications, just one organization – Asteron Life – earned a spot as a finalist and went on to pick up the award.

Although just one company could meet the required standards, Walls says there were still some promising applications.

“There were some applicants that we gave some feedback to because their applications weren’t complete from our perspective but there was definitely the seed of good things in them,” she told HRM.

“We recommended that they go back and do some more work in different areas and to reapply next year or beyond that so it wasn’t that the door was shut completely, we did give people some recommendation that they might like to look at,” she revealed.

“It’s still in its early stages and I think we’re still fairly unproven, I think we’re still quite immature in our application of CSR,” she added.

When asked why so many Kiwi companies weren’t quite delivering the results the judges had hoped for, Walls suggested employers may be underestimating the organizational value of effective CSR programs.

“Perhaps it hasn’t been articulated well enough yet in New Zealand that people really understand how it might work for the overall profitability of the business,” she said.

“I think it would be really great to see or hear New Zealand businesses really understanding the value of this type of work that they could do within their organization that has a social responsibility theme running through it because it could potentially increase productivity all round for them as a business,” she told HRM.

“I don’t think they can naturally see that thread yet or the connection.”
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