New findings reveal a substantial shift in MPs' attitudes towards companies' social responsibilities over the last year. Some 88% of all MPs in the new look Parliament, and an overwhelming majority of Government ministers, now believe that industry should play a bigger role in the community.
Although previous surveys of MPs have generally found greater support for corporate community investment (CCI) among Labour MPs, this year's research shows that support for CCI within Conservative ranks is growing too. Last year a mere 7% of Conservative MPs thought companies did not pay enough attention to their social responsibilities in comparison to 85% of Labour MPs. Today 83% of Labour MPs and 27% of Conservative MPs agree with this viewpoint. Overall, 94% of Labour MPs and 71% of Conservatives believe there is a greater role for industry to play in the community.
Other findings to emerge from the research include:
Help for unemployed young a top priority
Unemployed 16-24 year olds should be the main focus of companies' community efforts, say nearly 70% of MPs. Priorities differ widely though depending on political allegiance. For 84% of Labour MPs, youth unemployment is the priority issue. Support for educational activities and help with inner city improvements are deemed more important areas for company support by Conservative MPs. Labour and Conservative MPs also had different views about the importance of company support in providing cr?ches and childcare facilities. Nearly half of Labour MPs thought companies should focus their efforts on childcare compared to only 10% of Tory MPs. One in six MPs believes companies should focus their efforts on encouraging other companies to take social responsibilities seriously. However, opinions vary significantly by region: a third of Welsh MPs but no Scottish MPs would like companies to be more active on this issue.
Long-term sponsorship seen to benefit company and community
Companies which engage in long-term sponsorship are perceived by MPs to provide benefits to the community and charities as well as the company itself. In contrast companies which sponsor particular causes are seen by MPs to be the main beneficiary of their activities. When companies make cash donations however, MPs believe it's the charity that gains most.
Companies should make community work public
Nine in ten MPs believe companies should provide details of the scale and impact of their community investment activities. There is some dispute, however, as to whether this should be a legal requirement. Just over half of Labour members think it should be, while three-quarters of Conservative MPs disagree.
MORI interviewed a representative sample of 173 MPs face-to-face between 19 June and 1 September 1997 (response rate=56%). Results have been weighted to reflect the composition of the House.