Among the findings are:

Ã?? Only four out of 10 company boards discuss social and environmental issues, routinely or occasionally.

Ã?? Only a third of organisations (34 per cent) have a board member with an environmental remit, and a fifth (22 per cent) have one with an interest in social issues

Ã?? While two-thirds of directors think it important to know about suppliers’ treatment of staff or environmental impact, fewer than a third have a policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ã?? Eight out of 10 directors say their organisation does not publish reports on their social or environmental impact

Joseph says: ‘The idea that directors can’t say that social and environmental issues are important enough to be discussed at board level is an incredibly sad indictment of the leadership on CSR. There is a gap between rhetoric and reality, and also hypocrisy.’

She said this was the widest survey of business practice on CSR and showed that, beyond a few large companies that have taken a lead on the issue, performance is disappointing.

‘The cosy confines of the CSR-world are inundated with reports and case studies based on the responsible endeavours of business leaders and corporate representatives who are largely self-selecting and who often represent large FTSE-listed companies. This report is a reality check.’

However, Ruth Lea, head of policy at the IOD, said: ‘This is our survey. We paid for it. These things cost about Ã??15,000 to Ã??20,000. We have to be very sure that what is written up is a fair representation of the views. It is not necessarily the way our members see it.’

Matthew Taylor, the director of the think-tank, said the survey was not intended to be anti-business. ‘Throughout IPPR’s history we have constructively engaged with the business agenda. This report is entirely in keeping with that approach and I am surprised by the hostility it seems to be creating.’