For years in Turkey the concept of ‘corporate social responsibility’ has been regarded as synonymous with charitable works. Today the concept is being evaluated in its true sense to include a broad spectrum from the environment to business ethics, human rights and the value given to employees and since the turn of the century it has come increasingly onto companies’ agendas. GfK Türkiye has completed third “The Leaders in Social Responsibility in Turkey” survey, which we first started in 2005. This year framework of the year, which covers 1305 people, has been expanded to include the perceptions of business circles reagrding corporate social responsibility in addition to those of the public.
Procter & Gamble, the giant of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector, has to date distributed more than 500 million liters of clean drinking water in 10 countries within the scope of its Children’s Safe Drinking Water corporate social responsibility project. Over the last 20 years, Body Shop has collected around five million signatures to protest the use of animals in experimental tests. In addition, it has communicated around 12 million messages about human rights to the public.
GAP sells tee-shirts made from African cotton and it sends half of all the revenue from each tee-shirt to a charity helping Africans with AIDS.
The energy which these companies which are giants in their own fields expend on these corporate social security projects is based on an important reality. Today consumers do not want to consume the products of companies which do not fulfill their social responsibilities and prefer to patronize companies which behave responsibly in the social field. For this reason, the companies which we have cited as examples above want to boost their standing in the eyes of consumers and investors not only with their products but also with their performance in the social responsibility field.
In Turkey there are tens of companies which are aware of the concept of corporate social responsibility and which are actively working on the subject. Sabancı Holding, which invests an average of Euro 6.6 million a year just in environmental issues, is just one of them. The Holding spends approximately €1 million on reducing emissions and another €3.5 million just on purification of waste water and solid waste. Since 1974 it has via the Vaksa foundation invested US $1.11 billion social projects. This is why Sabancı Holding has been chosen as the most successful company in our survey of “The Leaders in Social Responsibility in Turkey” for the last three years.
The Critical Message From The Survey
GfK Türkiye Assistant General Manager Fulya Durmuş evaluated the results of the study as follows:
* “When it comes to corporate social responsibility activities, the public gives priority to those projects which contribute to education and teaching. In the public perception, support for projects on health, the environment and violence in the family are next most important after education. From the business world’s perspective, education heads the list of problems that need to be solved. Unlike the public, what are important for the business world are issues such as awareness of social morality and social security and health.”
*“Two thirds of the urban population in Turkey think that companies have a social responsibility, while in the business world this rate rises to 99 percent.”
* “The fact that both the public and the world of business believe that companies do not sufficiently fulfill their responsibilities demonstrates that there are high expectations when it comes to the private sector becoming involved in the solving of priority problems. Only 19 percent of the public thought that the private sector did enough in this regard. From the surveys of the business community, it is clear that they look at this issue more critically and a majority (73 percent) do not believe enough is being done.”
* “The fact that only a very small proportion of the public are aware of social responsibility projects shows that there is a need for more effective communication of these activities (4 percent said that they were sufficiently informed and 31 percent partly).”
* “The fact that they are involved in education, the area to which the public gives priority for investments in social responsibility, meant that, as had happened the previous year, the first three places were occupied by Sabancı Holding, Turkcell and Koç Holding. The business world agreed that these three companies were successful on the issue of education. Danone, which did not feature in the top ranks of the public survey last years, came fourth this time and Doğan Holding, Milliyet and Akbank rose towards the top ranks.”