A new report published by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland which researched the social impact of US investment in Ireland has shown that US companies supported 7,300 community projects nationwide last year, including initiatives in the areas of education, sport, health, STEM, culture, homelessness, social justice and inclusion. Entitled ‘Beyond Business – The Social Impact of US Investment in Ireland’ the research, conducted by the University of Notre Dame on behalf of the American Chamber, with support from AIB, also shows that 52,150 staff at US companies are engaged in CSR. In total, the research shows employees of US companies gave over 603,237 work supported volunteer hours last year.
Of the approximately 700 US companies operating in Ireland:
- 69% have formal CSR programmes
- 61% support individual employee volunteering
- 73% support projects that are youth related
- 66% have formal CSR budgets
- 55% publish CSR statements
The report states that for many US companies, Ireland was their first encounter overseas and for most their first inroad into Europe. They have found Ireland to be a location where new ideas and creativity flourish, and this is true of CSR. It also states that Ireland is on the leading edge of CSR innovation, effectively a laboratory for new ideas. Many of the CSR programmes initiated in Ireland in the larger established American companies have been adapted in other European countries. International research suggests that companies operating in countries or regions with strongly developed local connections exhibit higher rates of CSR. By European standards, Irish people at 65% are well above the 48% European average of belonging to a community or voluntary organisation. Ireland is above average in informal social contact (the second highest of 32 European countries), civic engagement, social support networks and trust in institutions.
US companies in Ireland rated the level of importance of CSR to their overall business strategy as a 7.5 out of 10 on average. There is also evidence that CSR is increasingly democratically organised with almost half (48%) of companies surveyed having an all staff dedicated annual volunteering day.
Of the companies surveyed who have long term charity partners, 67% of those are multi-annual arrangements and another 26% of companies are planning to implement long term partnerships. 73% of companies have projects that are youth related (13 to 17yrs), with companies increasingly active in seeking partnerships with organisations such as CoderDojo, Junior Achievement, Young Social Innovators and the GAA, which operate at the heart of local communities and connect with young people.
Promoting social inclusion, companies provide opportunities for young people, the unemployed and marginalised groups to access employment through skills development, work experience and employment programmes. Examples include Feeding Ireland’s Future, Positive2Work’s Advantage programme, and Fast Track to IT (FIT). Companies are also showing a greater willingness to be part of networks rather than run stand-alone programmes.
Welcoming the report, Bob Savage, President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, said “We are delighted to see the progress being made by US companies operating in Ireland in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. The figures are very significant, for example, 7,300 community projects supported by US companies, and staff at those companies giving over 600,000 hours to their own local causes, with the support of their employers. which I believe reflects the growing importance that companies are placing on CSR generally.
It’s also wonderful to see that Ireland is very influential in CSR innovation, and our programmes and initiatives are being replicated elsewhere. The fact that more and more US companies have moved to a point where they have formal CSR budgets in place means that the commitment is solid and will deepen over time.
I would like to congratulate Kevin Whelan and his team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame for the excellent work that went into producing this report. Our thanks also to AIB for their support for this project.”