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School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13125
CSR in investor relations: Socially responsible investors and shareholder engagement
Author: Lipponen, Essi
Title: CSR in investor relations: Socially responsible investors and shareholder engagement
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: yritysviestintä; business communication; kansainvälinen; international; yritykset; companies; yhteiskuntavastuu; corporate responsibility; sijoittajat; investors; verkostot; networks
Pages: 121
Full text:
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Key terms: CSR; investor relations; socially responsible investors; stakeholders; shareholder engagement; International Business Communication
Abstract OBJECTIVES Shareholders and investors have generally been considered to be stakeholders with limited interest in corporate social responsibility. This trend is changing, as today many investors perceive CSR as a factor that has implications on the bottom line. The main purpose of this study was to examine how CSR is present in investor relations (IR). The focus was on the interaction between socially responsible investors (SRIs) and IR as well as on shareholder engagement. In the present study, shareholder engagement refers to dialogues between investors and companies, with which investors aim to influence companies' CSR. Additionally, the study attempted to explore what challenges can be related to CSR in investor relations and to shareholder engagement, and how these phenomena are developing in the future.

METHODOLOGY The present thesis adopted a qualitative research design and the method of data collection was semi-structured interviews. In total nine individual interviews were conducted, four of which were with investor relations officers of Finnish public limited companies and five with Finnish institutional investors, who can be characterized as socially responsible investors.

FINDINGS The findings of the study showed that CSR is present in investor relations, since it is a relevant part of companies' strategies today. However, the findings suggested that mainstream investors are not very interested in CSR yet, and socially responsible investors thus stand out from the crowd. Socially responsible investors were considered to be quite focused on CSR as well as very thorough in their processes of evaluating the responsibility of their investments. Shareholder engagement was discovered to be an investor strategy for influencing corporate responsibility, which can be done in many different ways and compositions. Common denominators of engagement processes seemed to be their resource-binding nature, and the importance of personal relationships and trust. The findings suggested that CSR in investor relations can be challenging, since CSR messages directed to investors have to differ from messages to other stakeholders. Regarding shareholder engagement, the biggest challenge seemed to be related to resources. As for the future development of CSR in IR and shareholder engagement, the findings suggested that they are both increasing.

Keywords CSR, investor relations, socially responsible investors, stakeholders, shareholder engagement, International Business Communication
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