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Americans favor a company with a cause

Since Sept. 11, Americans have notched up the pressure on companies to support social causes, according to the newly released 2001 Cone/ Roper Corporate Citizenship Study. Boston-based Cone, a business-strategy consultancy, surveyed more than 1,000 adults nationwide.

Some 76 percent said they would take a firm's reputation into consideration when buying holiday gifts. And 81 percent called themselves likely to switch brands on items of comparable quality and price to support a cause. Most (88 percent) felt companies should disclose which causes they back, and how.

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They had strong feelings on the employment front, too. Some 76 percent of those Cone polled said "commitment to causes" was an important consideration in deciding where they would work. That figure was up from the 48 percent recorded in a pre-Sept. 11 survey.

Future investing decisions were also linked to firms' charitable behavior, with 63 percent of respondents calling a company's commitment to causes "important" in weighing which stocks or mutual funds to buy.

Those polled were also asked to cite their priorities. Causes directly linked to "national tragedy" were ranked first, followed by medical research and early childhood/elementary education.