The World Economic Forum CEO survey finds more enthusiasm than action in integrating corporate social responsibility into core business activities.

The report, entitled Responding to the Leadership Challenge: Findings of a CEO Survey on Global Corporate Citizenship, was based on questionnaire responses by 30 CEOs of public, private and state-owned companies from 16 countries in 18 industries.

Many of the companies surveyed had specific corporate governance structures in place to assess and promote corporate responsibility, mostly in the form of board sub-committees and executive committees on CSR and sustainability.

But the report also cited research conducted by Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) revealing that only 16 percent of the 1,336 companies SAM assessed in 2002 have established specific board committees on CSR and sustainability. A mere 29 percent of the companies assessed by SAM had boards that have taken formal responsibility for CSR or sustainability.

The Forum report cited several specific examples of companies linking executive compensation to CSR performance. "Indicators related to health, safety, environment and employee satisfaction are included, among others, in my performance contract, and are thus used for determining my bonus and form part of my performance review," said Statoil CEO Olav Fjell in the survey.

This strategy is relatively rare. The SAM research found that only 9 percent of the companies surveyed reported that more than 3 percent of their workforce received variable remuneration and compensation linked to CSR performance, according to the Forum report.

The survey revealed that the CEOs desire more sound empirical evidence linking CSR performance to financial and market performance.

While there is a lack of evidence of a causal link between CSR performance and market performance, the PriceWaterhouseCoopers CEO survey launched at last year's World Economic Forum annual meeting found 70 percent of CEOs consider CSR vital to profitability.

The report concluded by stressing the importance of reporting CSR performance. Almost half (48 percent) of the companies surveyed produce a CSR or sustainability report separate from the annual report. Others include CSR information on their Web sites and in their annual reports.