February 26, 2019

Who are the leaders in corporate social responsibility in NZ?

The world’s largest 500 companies are spending US$20 billion a year on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, according to UNESCO. Organisations all over the world, both big and small, are increasing their CSR efforts, as consumers step up their scrutiny of business ethics. 

In New Zealand, the Māori way of doing business (focusing on sustainability of both people and planet as a way of driving profit) has meant CSR has been present in our country in one form or another for many years. Now, however, businesses across New Zealand are applying these principles more widely. 

So who stands out as the leaders in corporate social responsibility in New Zealand?

Startups and recent businesses

In the past 10 years New Zealand has seen many businesses founded with CSR at their core. Eat My Lunch, for example, began in 2015, and gives one school lunch to a New Zealand child living in poverty for every meal a customer buys. The company says it has given over 1 million lunches to Kiwi children in just three years. 

Meanwhile, gelato company Little Island uses locally and ethically sourced ingredients for its ice cream. Set up in 2014, founder James Crow has never hid the fact that the company is there to make money, Stuff reports. However, the business doesn’t see why this can’t go hand-in-hand with acting conscientiously. In addition to its commitment to greener ingredients, Little Island also pays its workers a living wage. 

These are just two examples of a rich startup culture that is growing in New Zealand that is committed in one way or another to CSR.

Westpac New Zealand

Some may think it’s easier for startups to engage in CSR activities – after all, they can centre their whole business model and structure around acting ethically right from the beginning. But in New Zealand, this hasn’t stopped some very large organisations from leading the field in CSR. We’ve spoken about Air New Zealand in the past, which has won multiple awards for CSR, so here we’re going to take a look at Westpac.

In the early 2000s, Westpac announced its policy to move to triple bottom line reporting, which broadens a business’ reporting focus to include social and environmental impact as well as just the financial. Since then, it has pursued a large range of CSR activities. These include community contributions (the Westpac helicopters being an obvious example here), as well as environmental initiatives. It has recently set green growth lending targets, introduced a fleet of electric and hybrid cars, and partners with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, which encourages environmental awareness and leadership development. Most recently, Westpac became a living wage employer.

Toyota New Zealand

In 2017, Toyota earned third place in the Annual Review of the State of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), published by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility. The car company pursues a number of CSR activities, including its partnership with The Parenting Place, an organisation that offers advice and coaching for parents. Meanwhile, its Toyota Kiwi Gardens project with the Department of Conservation encourages 6-10 year olds into nature to increase appreciation in the hopes they will protect the environment in future years. 

Pursuing corporate social responsibility at your New Zealand business

CSR takes many forms, and will depend on the business in question. Mitre 10 and Bunnings, for example, recently announced they would move away from pesticides that were having a negative impact on bees – a move that is only really appropriate to that type of store, but one that will have a huge impact on the environment in New Zealand. 

Whatever form of CSR you decide you want your New Zealand business to pursue, it requires strong leaders to make it a reality. That’s where the executive recruitment specialists at JacksonStone & Partners can help. Reach out to the team today to find out more. 

<script async="" src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"> </script>