While there is no pre-compiled public data available that definitely determines the percentage of Fortune 500 companies that have corporate and social responsibility departments, our findings indicate that an estimated 43 percent to 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have developed at least one corporate sustainability goal. As a result of the increasing visibility of this segment of operations for Fortune 500 companies, we estimate that a similar percentage of corporations also have a dedicated corporate and social responsibility department and/or officer. Two key indicators of the likelihood of a corporation having a corporate and social responsibility department include size and sector, with large corporations in the energy and energy utilities industry being the most likely companies to have developed corporate sustainability goals.
We were unable to identify any consistent, pre-compiled information on the structure of corporate and social responsibility departments among Fortune 500 companies in the United States, so we examined two companies, Walmart and Apple, Inc., to provide key information about their respective organizational structures. At Walmart, Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Dan Bartlett is a senior leader who is responsible for "government relations and public policy, corporate communications, philanthropy, and the company’s social responsibility and sustainability initiatives." At Apple, Vice President for Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson is a senior leader who manages issues pertaining to climate change, green materials, conservation, education, and global government affairs.
Three corporate and social responsibility campaigns by Fortune 500 companies include the "Rural Airband Initiative" by Microsoft in 2017, "Carbon Neutrality and Renewable Energy" by Google in 2017, and a number of "Environment and Philanthropy" initiatives by The Walt Disney Company.
FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WITH CSR departments
In order to gain a detailed understanding of the Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) functions of large corporations in the United States, my colleagues and I focused on researching Fortune 500 companies, as you indicated these organizations are your primary interest. Our preliminary research indicated that "corporate and social responsibility" is often synonymous in the literature with "corporate sustainability," "sustainable development," and "responsible corporate citizenship." As a result, we have also used these terms interchangeably throughout this brief.
Unfortunately, after exhaustively reviewing industry publications and credible media resources, we were unable to identify any pre-compiled data on the exact number and/or percentage of Fortune 500 companies in the United States that have a corporate and social responsibility department. We were also unable to research each of the 500 companies listed in 2017 as Fortune 500 companies within the scope of one Wonder request to determine this information on an individual basis.
However, in order to provide you with meaningful data, we identified some key insights about corporate sustainability in North America and triangulated estimates pertaining to Fortune 500 companies. These estimates were based on credible industry publications and an extensive survey by the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence of 551 companies in North America. Approximately 81.9 percent of companies that participated in this study were based in the United States, which indicates these findings are broadly applicable to American Fortune 500 companies. We also identified several key trends in corporate and social responsibility in the United States, including the role of corporate size, success, sector, and goals on corporate and social responsibility.
Percentage with csr departments
Our findings indicate that in the United States, corporate and social responsibility at Fortune 500 companies is closely linked to an increased reliance on renewable and/or sustainable energy. Approximately 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies have developed corporate sustainability goals, with 22 percent of these companies indicating they are currently transitioning or planning to transition to renewable energy, specifically. Additionally, an estimated 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have developed at least one corporate sustainability goal, with targets related to climate change and/or clean energy being the most popular.
Company size is considered a key indicator of corporate and social responsibility in the United States. While Fortune 500 companies are leading the business sector overall in the development of corporate and social responsibility goals, nearly 63 percent of the largest Fortune 100 companies have set at least one sustainability goal. In contrast, only 44 percent of the smallest companies on the list have made comparable progress towards the development of social responsibility goals. In 2016, these targets resulted in the development of 80,000 corporate sustainability projects by 190 companies, yielding an estimated $3.7 billion in savings. It is estimated that $15 billion is invested annually by Fortune 500 companies in all types of corporate philanthropy.
These findings allowed us to estimate that between 43 percent and 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have set corporate and social responsibility goals. Additional research on this topic confirms this estimate. In a study conducted by the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence of 551 companies in North America that released public information on corporate sustainability and social responsibility, 81.9 percent of companies researched were based in the United States. As a result, we determined that 451 companies in the survey were American corporations (551 * 0.819). Additionally, 50.3 percent of the companies publishing corporate and social responsibility data were classified as "large companies," which indicates 226 companies might be substantial enough to be on the Fortune 500 list (226 * 0.503). As 226 companies would amount to 45.2 percent of the Fortune 500 list (226/500 * 100), this research confirms our estimate that 43 percent to 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have set corporate and social responsibility goals.
We did not locate any publicly available data on the number and/or percentage of Fortune 500 companies that have dedicated corporate and social responsibility departments. However, we have assumed that as a result of the rapid expansion and visibility of this facet of operations, a similar percentage of Fortune 500 companies would also have dedicated a separate corporate and social responsibility officer and/or department to manage target goals. Therefore, we estimate that between 43 percent and 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate and social responsibility department.
General Trends in CSR in Large Corporations
The Role of Corporate Size
In the United States, approximately 79.2 percent of large corporations that publish corporate sustainability reports are public companies, indicating that organizations that take a formal approach to addressing the need for corporate and social responsibility are more likely to be "large and/or multinational enterprises" that have achieved a significant measure of success. As previously discussed, company size is an important factor. Approximately 50.3 percent of companies publishing CSR data in one study were classified as "large companies," while 44.1 percent were multinational corporations.
It is believed that the primary driver of this trend is the global impact of operations for these companies, which makes it necessary for them to publicly address corporate and social responsibility to maintain "their social and environmental license to operate." However, there is a growing trend for smaller corporations to take a formal approach to corporate and social responsibility, due to the perception that doing so "can increase their transparency, attract customers, and grow their business." In fact, based on revenue data, there is considerable evidence that companies with comprehensive corporate and social responsibility goals have realized greater financial success than competitors who do not publicly report on their sustainability goals and performance. There is also mounting evidence that corporations should make an effort to achieve their targets and document their progress publicly, even if failure could negatively impact their overall corporate performance.
Alignment with External Standards
In the United States, corporations are not strongly aligned with the United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs), with only 6.1 percent of companies that publish sustainability reports incorporating the United Nations' target goals into their official corporate reports. Despite the lack of engagement with the United Nations SDGs, corporations in the United States are increasingly incorporating specific, external guidelines into their corporate and social responsibility reports. It is estimated that 65 percent of all companies that published a sustainability report highlighted their compliance with standards developed by the Reporting Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). An additional 21.2 percent of companies utilize standards published by the Carbon Disclosure Project, while 10.7 percent comply with the guidelines developed by the United Nations Global Compact.
The Impact of Sector on CSR
Some industries are more likely than others to address social responsibility and sustainability in their official corporate publications in the United States. It has been documented that the "energy and energy utilities, financial services, food and beverage, and mining" sectors are currently the "most proactive when it comes to disclosing the data and information on their business activities and operations." In the United States, the energy sector is the most active industry in publishing data on corporate and social responsibility, representing 14 percent of all companies that publish corporate sustainability reports. This trend is potentially related to the growing demand for energy companies to demonstrate compliance with key environmental goals, as reducing the corporate carbon footprint is the top priority for companies rated highly for corporate sustainability. Financial services are the second most likely sector to publish formal sustainability reports, representing 11.6 percent of companies in North America. Finally, 10.2 percent of companies that make sustainability information public are in the food and beverage sector, while 6.7 percent of companies filing public corporate responsibility reports are in the mining sector.
csr structure in fortune 500 companies
Having developed the framework that nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies in the United States have developed a corporate and social responsibility department, my colleagues and I then attempted to determine key aspects of the structure of these departments. We reviewed industry publications, data from corporate sustainability interest groups, and credible media resources, but again, we did not locate any pre-compiled data that provided consistent insights on the structure of corporate and social responsibility departments among Fortune 500 companies in the United States.
In the alternative, we compared two of the top Fortune 500 companies in the United States in order to provide key insights about departmental structure. We selected Walmart and Apple, Inc. for this project, as both companies have well-defined departments with ample information publicly available on their corporate websites. We attempted to identify the organizational structure of the department, title, and name of the departmental leader, relationship to the company's senior leadership, department into which this position falls, and overall size of the department.
Walmart, which was the top-ranked Fortune 500 company in 2017, has indicated that the company's corporate and social responsibility goal is "to reshape the way we work to achieve significant and lasting improvement in environmental and social outcomes, in a way that also improves our business." Walmart's corporate and social responsibility department is headed by the Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Dan Bartlett. This position is part of the Corporate Affairs Department, and Mr. Bartlett is responsible for "government relations and public policy, corporate communications, philanthropy and the company’s social responsibility and sustainability initiatives." Additionally, this position is part of Walmart's executive team of senior managers, and is thus a component of the company's senior leadership.
Unfortunately, Walmart does publish data on the size of the department. While there are a number of users on LinkedIn that are reportedly involved in this department's operations, we could not verify that all the LinkedIn profiles available comprise the entire department. We did note that there is some overlap between the department responsible for corporate sustainability, as one Senior Director of Global Governance, Global People, and Corporate Affairs is also a Senior Director in the Human Resources department.
Apple, Inc. is currently rated third on the Fortune 500 list, and our findings indicate that since 2011, Apple has made significant strides in the development of corporate and social responsibility goals. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is "making his mark by highlighting the importance of social efforts: LGBT rights, philanthropy, corporate diversity, renewable energy, and improving manufacturing conditions abroad." Apple's corporate and social responsibility department is headed by Vice President for Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson. Key responsibilities for this position include addressing concerns about climate change, encouraging the use of green materials, working to conserve "precious resources," developing Apple's education programs, and managing global government affairs for the company. Apple's organizational structure indicates that the Vice President for Environmental, Policy, and Social Initiatives is a senior leader and reports directly to Mr. Cook.
Similar to Walmart, Apple does publish data on the size of the corporate and social responsibility department, and our limited findings on LinkedIn did not allow us to triangulate an estimate of the department's size. However, we did not identify any publicly available information that suggests that Apple's corporate and social responsibility department overlaps with any other departments.
CASE STUDIES OF CSR CAMPAIGNS
In order to identify three to five case studies of significant corporate and social responsibility campaigns, my colleagues and I first evaluated a 2017 study published by the Reputation Institute, which is a reputation-management consulting firm based in Boston. The Reputation Intitute provides an annual ranked list of the most socially responsible global corporations. The Reputation Institute relies on a "CSR score," which is a composite score reflecting a complex array of social responsibility indicators, including consumers' perceptions of corporate governance, the company's positive impact on society, the manner in which each company treats its employees, and many others. An "excellent" score is greater than 80. The institute has determined that "the top [organizations] with stronger CSR scores have improved reputation and stakeholder support with CSR. They have demonstrated their leadership is actively engaged in CSR, and their commitment to the cause is driven by action and not just rhetoric."
The top-ranked company, The Lego Group, is based in Denmark, so this corporation was excluded from our research. The next three highest-ranked companies were Microsoft, Google, and The Walt Disney Company. All of these companies are based in the United States. We then researched each of these companies individually, evaluating information published on their corporate websites, annual reports, and press releases to identify social responsibility campaigns and the impact on each corporation. Our preliminary findings indicated that none of these companies publish information on the financial impact of corporate and social responsibility; on the contrary, Microsoft explicitly reports that corporate sustainability is not financially motivated. However, for each case study, we were able to identify some indirect benefits, such as obtaining the goodwill of their customers and gaining loyalty from stakeholders, which ultimately allows each corporation to expand its business. Below you will find a discussion of corporate and social responsibility campaigns, organized in no particular order.
Microsoft: "rural airband initiative"
Microsoft was rated the second most socially responsible company in the world in 2017, with a CSR score of 74.1. Microsoft launched the "Rural Airband Initiative" in 2017, with a goal of expanding broadband connectivity to up to two million rural Americans by 2022. Currently, it is estimated that 23.4 million Americans are located in rural areas without access to the "economic, educational, and health opportunities the internet provides."
The campaign is composed of three elements, which will be achieved over the course of five years. First, Microsoft will make direct partnerships with internet access, energy access, and telecommunications companies to invest the necessary capital upfront to expand coverage. The company plans to "seek a revenue share from operators to recoup our investment, and then use these revenue proceeds to invest in additional projects to expand coverage further." Second, Microsoft will invest in digital education programs for members of these communities. Third, Microsoft intends to stimulate similar investments by other companies through technology licensing, in order to "serve as a catalyst for market investments by others in order to reach additional rural communities."
This campaign (and others like it) are a component of the "bigger picture" of Microsoft's overall corporate and social responsibility initiatives. Microsoft believes that by emphasizing the accomplishments of these campaigns, Microsoft will "earn the trust and confidence of the public, our customers, partners, employees, and shareholders."
Google: "Carbon neutrality and renewable energy"
Ranked the third most socially reputable company in 2017, Google earned a CSR score of 73.9. Google's corporate and social responsibility objective is to "meet the challenges posted by climate change by working to empower everyone - businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, communities, and individuals - to use Google technology to create a more sustainable world." Google launched the "Carbon Neutrality and Renewable Energy" campaign, with a goal of utilizing 100 percent renewable energy for operations in 2017.
This corporate and social responsibility campaign is significant because Google is currently the largest corporate purchaser for renewable energy, and the company has been "carbon neutral since 2007." In order to ensure 100 percent reliance on renewable energy, Google has signed 20 agreements with renewable energy vendors that will result in the use of 2.6 gigawatts of energy for Google's operations. This is estimated to be the equivalent of "taking more than 1.2 million cars off the road." Additionally, these commitments will invest $3.5 billion in sustainable infrastructure investments globally, with an estimated $2.31 million invested in the United States.
Google has launched a substantial number of corporate and social responsibility initiatives, where programs range from reducing carbon intensity to promoting remote workplace options. Overall, the company promotes the belief that "you can make money without doing evil," and Google hopes to "engage in CSR activities that benefit the stakeholder groups of employees and communities and satisfy regulatory requirements."
Walt Disney Co: "environment and philanthropy"
The Walt Disney Company was rated the fourth most socially responsible company in 2017, earning a CSR score of 73.5. The company's corporate and social responsibility programs are aligned under its "Environment and Philanthropy" program, which aims to encourage environmental stewardship, conserve resources, and promote environmentally-friendly corporate policies while expanding business operations.
The Walt Disney Company's social and corporate responsibility programs are multifaceted and address a variety of concerns. These issues include the sustainable use of natural resources, and the company has a long-term goal of producing no greenhouse gas emissions or waste. Additionally, company policies promote water conversation "when and wherever we can." Comprehensive evaluation of key sustainability issues drives corporate strategy and policy, programs, philanthropic efforts, and overall business operations. Volunteering and supporting charitable endeavors are encouraged at The Walt Disney Company.
Overall, through its Environment and Philanthropy" program, the Walt Disney Company intends to reshape is policies to meet stakeholder expectations for maximizing its positive impact on society. The program benefits from regular collaboration with stakeholders, senior leaders, various business units, and consumers, and this collaboration also ensures widespread buy-in.
In summary, it is estimated that 43 percent to 48 percent of Fortune 500 companies have developed at least one corporate sustainability goal, and due to the increasing visibility of this segment of operations, we estimate that a similar percentage of corporations also have a dedicated corporate and social responsibility department and/or officer. At Walmart, Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Dan Bartlett fills this role, which is comparable to Vice President for Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson's position at Apple, Inc. Three corporate and social responsibility campaigns by Fortune 500 companies include the "Rural Airband Initiative" by Microsoft, "Carbon Neutrality and Renewable Energy" by Google, and a number of "Environment and Philanthropy" initiatives by The Walt Disney Company.