The Business Case for CSR

A final note for the day - contrary to the conventional wisdom that it costs more to be responsible than it is worth: the fact is, the exact opposite is true. Responsible companies on average outperform their less responsible peers by up to 25%.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International World Index of 602 companies found that the 186 highest-ranked companies outperformed the remaining 416 companies by 23.4 percent between January 2000 and October 2003.

Lynn Sharpe Pains, a Harvard Business Professor and author of Value Shift, reviewed 95 academic studies for the relationship between corporate financial and social performance. Although there is much to question about these studies, it is worth noting that only 4 of the 95 studies found a negative relationship between social and financial performance, and fifty-five studies found a positive correlation between better financial performance and better social performance.

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  • Curt Rosengren

    "Responsible companies on average outperform their less responsible peers by up to 25%."

    The idealist in me wants to believe that a socially responsible focus is the reason they perform better, but the realist in me says....mmmmm, maybe it's actually a "symptom."

    That is to say, maybe companies who really have their acts together are more likely to be socially responsible. And it's the act-togetherness that drives the performance, rather than the social responsibility.


    Curt Rosengren
    Passion Catalyst (sm)

  • Donald E. L. Johnson

    An interesting string of comments is buried in the previous post "markets" under your "comment" link in the first line. Suggest you move those comments to this blog or comment on them in some way.

  • kirsten

    p.s. certainly not intending to burst anyone's bubble here. just trying to learn from the experts and expand "my territory of knowledge."

  • kirsten

    Reviewed your business case on your company site about SRI and SRCs. OK, I am just a marketing gal (, but it seems some of the best performing sectors are gambling, liquor, food, cigarettes, etc. Consumer non-cyclicals (which includes distilleries and brewing and softdrinks) has outperformed other sectors over the past 3 years. Just check i-Shares. Vice appears to be nice. Sin stocks tend to do even better in a economic lag or when people are nervous about elections, war, & the economy. A friend of mine suggests the following adage: finance is the gun, politics is the decision to pull the trigger.

    In an 2002 article, Lisa Harast wrote: "some of the most damaging evidence against SRI is what can be found by looking at Morningstar's universe of socially responsible investments. As of March 31st 2002, only 23 out of the 103 SRIs that it covers have a rating of four or above. Of those funds that have at least three years performance history, the median three-year return and standard deviation were 2.72% and 19.04 respectively. Expense ratios averaged 1.43. This gives the impression that SRIs are high-risk investment vehicles that exhibit poor performance and are quite expensive."

    Personally having a hard time reconciling your references with those from Morningstar. What gives?