The business case for corporate social responsibility


Zurich Malaysia’s ‘Eat Right To Play Right’ campaign.

There is a clear link between an organisation’s environmental and social impacts, ethical practices and quality of its corporate governance and its long-term business success. And while corporate social responsibility (CSR) is typically associated with large companies, rather than small businesses, as the need to attract and retain the up and coming cohort of Gen Y and Millennials intensifies, companies of all sizes are quickly learning that social responsibility has become a contemporary advice business imperative.

For advisers looking to sustain their business in the long term, CSR is one of the keys to connecting and maintaining relationships with this generation. In fact, in 2015, Nielsen published its annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report, which revealed that 81% of millennials expect their favourite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.

What does a socially responsible business look like?

CSR is about having a purpose that is about more than making a profit, and having a set of ethics and values that run right through the heart of a business. This includes meeting certain standards such as fair wages for employees, charitable donations, and transparent reporting. Other socially conscious issues important to Millennials include open-mindedness on diversity and lifestyle choices and the passion to volunteer and make a difference.

Start small, think big

Ask yourself what you value and believe in and align your business accordingly. These don’t need to be large-scale actions. By staying local and helping a charity or community project on your doorstep, you can easily see the difference your help is making and technology has now made it easier than ever to share the good news with clients. Opportunities include setting up a CSR page on your business website, sharing CSR activities and milestones through social media, and including CSR values in marketing collateral.

Other opportunities include offering tailored investment options that appeal to the socially-conscious values of clients. For example, avoiding investments in equities that produce or sell addictive substances (like alcohol, gambling and tobacco) and seeking out companies engaged in social justice, environmental sustainability and alternative energy/clean technology efforts.

Lessons from the Zurich Z Foundation

One of the things that Zurich is most proud of as a company is the Z Zurich Foundation – our charitable foundation, which last year alone, invested more than CHF 15’000’000 (AUD $20 million) in projects across the world.

  • Natural disaster relief

Some of the causes that the Zurich Z Foundation has provided monetary support to in recent years include emergency relief after natural disasters, such as the devastating Nepalese earthquake of 2015, when the Foundation gave CHF 135’000, matching contributions made by Zurich’s global employees, or more recently, the earthquakes that struck central Italy and New Zealand in 2016.

  • Mental health awareness

Zurich Ireland has invested more than one million euros in a partnership with Rugby Players Ireland, leveraging the profile of male and female rugby players so help break down the stigma around mental health with the ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign.

Ireland has one of the highest levels of youth suicide in Europe, and with rugby being an Irish institution, the team at Zurich Ireland saw an opportunity to apply to the Zurich Z Foundation for funding to combine rugby and the issue of mental health for a three year campaign.

Several employees have also come forward to act as ambassadors, telling their own stories and helping create a movement internally. The campaign has been a great success so far, with other offers of support coming from both private and public sector.

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  • Youth empowerment

Zurich Malaysia is running a campaign called ‘Eat Right To Play Right’, using football (soccer) as a platform to help tackle childhood obesity. Our partnership with World Vision allowed us to train community coaches to get kids active, whilst teaching them about the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.

Malaysia has a concerning number of children, who are either obese due to eating too much junk food, or undernourished through lack of healthy staple foods. By empowering our employees and community leaders to become coaches, and help change behaviours, Zurich is already seeing the health of children improve through our annual health checks.


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