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What UK Businesses Really Think of Corporate Social Responsibility

Companies that demonstrate a consistent commitment to protecting and empowering their employees can not only expect loyal staff but can also attract a growing client and consumer base.

No matter how large or small, a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts do a lot to shape its identity, so much so that companies with a good CSR rating have returns 19 per cent higher than those with a poor rating.

In addition to this, 59 per cent of consumers hold the opinion that businesses have a responsibility to do social good.

This is all according to the recently released results of a three-year study by Tyl, who surveyed UK business owners to find out what CSR means to them and how this translates into business success.

What does the data say?

Despite pressing concerns from consumers, 52 per cent of UK businesses don’t currently have a clear CSR strategy set out. Inactivity in this department was at its highest among Welsh businesses at 64 per cent. Despite the high level of inaction, 36 per cent believe CSR initiatives are very important in terms of business value

However, a third of UK businesses have incorporated CSR in their businesses and this rose to 40 per cent among banking and finance companies.

When looking closer at the finance industry specifically, 47 per cent believe CSR initiatives are important and can add value to a business.

Tyl’s data supports consensus, showing that taking CSR seriously can see benefits not only for people and the planet but for profits too.

Is CSR really going to put money in your pocket?

Although the data emphasises the profit-boosting benefits of CSR, two in five banking and finance companies claim that they don’t see any benefits of initiatives, whilst a third don’t agree that effective CSR can add value. This recording was the highest of any industry.

So what’s happening? Could this be due to ineffective CSR policies? Or are businesses facing significant barriers that are preventing them from implementing a successful CSR strategy?

Fortunately, Tyl asked business owners what they consider to be the main barriers that prevent them from implementing a CSR strategy.

Thirty-seven per cent of business owners cited a lack of resources as the main barrier.

Among banking and finance businesses, lack of resources (33 per cent), lack of a proper measurement system (27 per cent) and financial consideration (27 per cent) were all identified as key barriers to implementation.

This correlates with the recent data of the British Business Bank, which brought to light a similar angle in which the overcomplexity of common environmental terms was holding back UK businesses from being environmentally friendly.

In the same frame of mind, data from Tandem Bank highlights how over half of the UK is more worried about the rising cost of living than about the effects of climate change, and therefore a lack of priority has also become a barrier to implementation.

Was Covid the catalyst for positive change?

Research conducted by Pennies found that 53 per cent of consumers think that the pandemic has seen a more caring society that’s mindful of other people’s hardships.

Interestingly, 47 per cent of banking and finance business owners state that they could improve on their current CSR strategy, with 47 per cent also pledging their organisation will be more committed to CSR in 2022.

Once a business has the capability to implement a CSR plan, what are the most urgent social issues that need addressing?

Across all industries, health, well-being and equality were cited as the most important societal development by 46 per cent of respondents. In the finance industry, the most important cause was health, wellbeing, and equality (33 per cent), followed by climate change (27 per cent) and technology and innovation (also 27 per cent).

With millions of people now reassessing their work and life priorities, Tyl’s findings provide UK businesses with an opportunity to reset their relationship with not only their staff but consumers more widely too.

Mike Elliff, CEO of Tyl
Mike Elliff

“It is now more important than ever that businesses are invested in CSR – not only are consumers more motivated to purchase from companies who do good, but young professionals are more prone to seek employment with a business that recognises the needs of the community,” comments Mike Elliff, CEO of Tyl.

“We must all play a part in enacting positive social change and that’s why I’m so proud that Tyl by Natwest donates a portion of our revenue to our ‘giveback community fund’ for every payment we process for our merchants.”


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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