75% of consumers would recommend a business that is Socially Responsible. 60% of consumers would pay extra if the company has a good CSR record. 65% of consumers have spent more on products with a positive impact on the environment. 70% of respondents lie on CSR surveys.
CSR Surveys are a liar’s paradise, but still widely used. This page will explain why CSR surveys are used and why they’re useless.
Why are CSR Surveys Popular?
Business people have been trained to follow data, not suppositions. Decisions need to be backed up with evidence. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) presented a challenge. Initially there wasn’t much evidence that CSR was good for business.
CSR was pushed by activists on a reluctant business world. Unwilling to fight back, corporations appeased critics by joining the CSR movement. However, there was no data to justify this.
CSR Surveys provided quantitative data and evidence for superficial CSR. Finally, business folk could justify why they sounded like 19 year-old activists. However, the CSR Survey was a deeply flawed concept.
Why a CSR Survey is Flawed:
A CSR Survey is useless because of the Social Desirability Bias. Respondents answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favourably by others. Even in anonymous surveys, people give the ‘right answer’ not the truthful one.
Studies have shown that survey respondents tend to overstate income, deny illegal activity, deny bigotry and lie about their height and weight. Especially vulnerable are surveys that ask how altruistic and charitable people are. When consumers are asked about their good intentions and purchase behavior, you get a wish list that would make Mother Teresa proud. These lofty results almost never follow through to the real world.
Even in basic political polls many respondents claim to be liberal, but vote conservative. As this article shows the politically correct answer prevails in polls.
Why are CSR Surveys believed?
Managers and consultants believe the delusion because without it CSR would have no backbone. The Confirmation Bias also plays a part. Those who want CSR search for data that confirms their view. The Acquiescence Bias suggests that respondents tend to agree with questions and statements. With many biases involved, CSR Survey statistics provide a false sense of intellect and business research.
The framing of the question is also usually biased. Some questions portray CSR as a cost-free choice, without trade-offs. Even if a cost is described, a hypothetical cost on a survey is vastly different than a real life cost.
Ultimately many business folk have been fooled by their own advertising. Choosing to believe the wishful thinking of CSR.