Skepticism of ‘good deeds’

The Olympic Games and the tsunami in southeast Asia last year made more Greeks aware of corporate social activity. Nevertheless, ignorance of this field remains at very high levels. According to this year’s Awareness and Social Behavior Index (ASBI) of MEDA Communication, which records the trends, behavior and attitudes of Greek society in relation to social work by public and private authorities and social groups, six out of 10 citizens say they do not know about enterprises’ social activism. Worse, the trust index toward social activism reveals a considerable level of skepticism regarding the incentives and objectives behind companies’ initiatives. Of a sample of 1,500 people from across Greece, 81.7 percent answered that corporate social activity aims at benefitting the business and does not derive from genuine social interest. «The support they provide is indirectly aimed at their promotion and, in essence, has benefits,» respondents said. Just 10.2 percent believe that companies are indeed interested in supporting social initiatives, while men are more skeptical than women. Besides an increase in corporate social work awareness, a similar increase is recorded in those who appreciate the importance of this activity. This vindicates the view that the more society is aware of business’s social activity, the more its significance will be recognized. The greatest rise in awareness is found in central Greece, the Peloponnese and Crete. This year’s increase in awareness is also due to another crucial factor, according to the survey. This is «the ever-increasing trend by enterprises to publicize social and environmental initiatives within the context of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).» However, the citizens surveyed have their own priorities and want enterprises to also behave «like good citizens» toward the environment, people (employees, partners and clients) and profits, which also happen to be the three basic «principles» of CSR. In this year’s ASBI survey, people put work conditions as their top priority, with particular emphasis on safety and hygiene for manpower. They also rate highly human rights and equal opportunities for the advancement and best use of employees. Given that this is the third year in a row that ASBI is operating in Greece, the mistrust of companies remains particularly high. The survey suggests that Greek public opinion’s doubts about the social work of enterprises is one of the burning issues that has not yet become an issue of broader debate.

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