• Norman Brook

Companies should include Sport in their CSR Programmes

Helen Tucker, World Triathlon Champion, attends Corus Kids of Steel event

The CSR element of this sponsorship allowed British Triathlon to launch a series of children’s events, the Corus Kids of Steel,  aimed at introducing increased numbers of young people to the sport of Triathlon especially children from under-represented groups and from socially disadvantaged areas.

The sponsorship also enabled the employment of an equity officer and introduced initiatives to promote triathlon amongst diverse and under-represented groups.  Big advances were made in respect of triathlon for people with a disability, known as Paratriathlon and other initiatives addressed women, black and ethnic minorities and the gay and lesbian community.

This week a major report was released titled “Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports Sponsorship”.  The report includes a number of case studies including the Corus sponsorship of British Triathlon and one of its conclusions is that companies delivering CSR programmes need to include sport in their strategies.

Competitors at the 1st British Para-Triathlon Championships

Steven Hemsley, the report’s author, suggests that sport is now an effective CSR medium because: “It boasts values that all socially-responsible businesses should be striving for. These include fair play to everyone involved including employees, customers and suppliers, transparency and opportunities for all to succeed, as well as good community relations.”  He adds: “During difficult financial times it becomes even more important for businesses to strengthen relationships with their key stakeholders and linking CSR to sport allows organisations to do this.”

The study also outlines the struggle that many organisations face in overcoming media, public and employee cynicism when associating their CSR strategy with sport. It explains that there are pitfalls to avoid if a CSR programme is to work and how organisations must ensure that the activity is run with integrity.

Whilst pure sports sponsorship is often based on hard-nosed marketing and business decisions, CSR investment is based more on how a business can improve the communities in which it operates. The report emphasises how important it is that companies chose a cause and sport which has a synergy with its own mission statement and values as well as its products and services.

The report includes a number of case studies examining how major companies link their CSR agendas to their support of sport. In addition to Corus supporting British Triathlon there are case studies looking at companies such as Nike, Standard Chartered Bank, McCain, Aviva and Ricoh.  The report looks at sports such as  athletics; soccer including the Premier League and the Homeless World Cup; tennis; hockey; volleyball; yachting, F1 motor racing; cycling; table tennis; Major League Baseball; and the NFL.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports Sponsorship is published by the marketing intelligence company International Marketing Reports.  Full details can be found here.

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