A year ago in Issue 33, Alastair Bruce described a new best practice model, to compare performance and improve management of corporate community involvement. Here he sets out the results from a group of leading companies.
The Bruce Naughton Wade CCI Index provides a standard best practice model against which individual companies’ CCI programmes can be assessed. The Index was piloted during 1996/97 by seven companies and the first full cycle was completed in April 1998 with 16 companies(1).
Eight separate categories of CCI performance are assessed, covering objectives, management, specific activities, communications, research, measurement and the actual results achieved. The aim is to help companies identify ways of increasing the benefits of their programmes through a rigorous process of comparative external assessment.
From the cross section of businesses involved, we can also form a judgement about the state of the art among leading firms today. The model has proved to be equally applicable to a multinational with global business operations, for example, as to a UK company with a mainly regional programme.
In general, the 16 companies scored highly in the categories related to determining strategy and running their community activities, with top level support. By contrast, scores were generally lower in the two ‘results’ categories, based on demonstrable benefits to the business and to the wider community. The communications and measurement categories showed a marked improvement since the pilot exercise, but still with room for further development.
In detail, findings indicate that even leading companies still have some way to go in fostering a pervasive internal culture, where community involvement is an integral part of the way they do business. Devolved management structures make this more important than ever. Despite the growing volume of research and measurement activity, few can yet give a coherent and convincing statement of what they achieve, either for the business or for the community.
As companies are drawn into high profile public policy issues, such as welfare to work, they need to clarify the principles which determine their involvement. They should position their community programmes as an integral part of their overall approach, while recognising that community involvement represents only a small part of a company’s social impact in comparison with the way it conducts its core business. As more companies decide to publish social reports, the need to ensure community activities are well managed will grow.
The sixteen companies included in this year’s Index have shown their commitment to good management in order to enhance the benefits their programmes yield. Increasingly they seek to manage CCI as an integral part of their business. This is an encouraging sign of their willingness to make an active contribution to society. Still an open question, however, is whether the efforts of these leading companies will be enough to motivate other businesses to emulate them.
Alastair Bruce is a partner in the public affairs management consultancy, Bruce Naughton Wade, which devised the model. For enquiries about the Index, he can be contacted on 0171 620 1113 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note 1: Barclays Bank, The Body Shop International, BP, Bristol & West, BT, Cable & Wireless, KPMG, Marks & Spencer, NatWest Group, North West Water, Rio Tinto, Sainsbury’s, Shell UK, SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and Whitbread.
Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 41 – August, 1998