Banking on Corporate Social Responsibility

Research Article

This exploratory study set out to understand the true value of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the banking sector. Businesses, including banks, actively participate in CSR but the question of value still persists. What does the bank receive in return for participating in CSR? Do banks get more customers as a result of their CSR programmes? Do banks have a better customer retention rate because of their CSR programme? Will customers change banks purely because they disagree with their banks CSR programme? These were some of the issues addressed but due to the small sample size, the findings cannot be generalised. The study did not find any significant, positive nor negative relationship, between CSR and the bank customers; meaning the tests could not provide evidence that for instance CSR programmes should be targeted towards female customers or customers of a certain age or income bracket. More importantly 80% of the respondents did not consider CSR an issue that was important enough to affect their choice of banks. They will not switch banks purely based on a bank’s CSR programme. Understandably they were more interested in bank fees and interest rates. These issues directly affected their reason for choosing a particular bank. So the question of why banks, and presumably other businesses, still participate and spend a lot of money on CSR when their customers do not seem to place much value on it, still persists. The findings suggest that a much larger study on the topic is warranted. It will aid banks and other businesses decide on their role in corporate social responsibility. Whose needs are being satisfied by participating in CSR?

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