Corporate social responsibility may be “the right thing to” and nearly half of U.S. CFOs surveyed think that it’s important to business strategy. But so far, U.S. companies trail companies around the world in the importance they place on social responsibility and sustainability.

While half of U.S. companies putting importance on corporate social responsibility, or CSR, sounds good, it’s a much higher priority around the world, said John Graham, professor of finance at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. In Europe, 63 percent of CFOs rate CSR and sustainability as priorities. It’s even higher in other regions: 67 percent of CFOs in Asia, 76 percent in Latin America and 83 percent in Africa said CSR and sustainability were important.

“In the U.S., companies are split on the importance of corporate social responsibility,” Graham said in a statement. “While concern about CSR has undoubtedly increased in the U.S. during the past decade, our results indicate that these objectives have not permeated the entire corporate sector.”

The findings come from the latest Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey, which has been conducted for 69 consecutive quarters and spans six continents, this time including CFOs in Africa for the first time. Duke says the survey is the world’s longest running and most comprehensive research conducted from senior finance executives.

In other findings, optimism of U.S. CFOs is on the rise. The U.S. Business Optimism Index showed a 61 on a scale from 0 to 100. For comparison, last quarter’s reading was 55 on the scale. The long-run average index value is 59. Latin American CFOs are the most optimistic about the future, with a reading of 66 on the scale; their European counterparts are the least optimistic, showing a reading of only 53.

The increased optimism in among U.S. financial executives is apparently slow to translate into spending increases. U.S. companies plan to increase spending by 6 percent over the next 12 months, up from 5 percent last quarter. Hiring will be up 1 percent, not enough to put a dent in the unemployment rate.

“It’s noteworthy that, in the U.S., CFOs’ perceptions of their own companies’ prospects are remaining stable, but aren’t surging forward as quickly as their perceptions of the broader economy,” Celina Rogers, vice president of research at CFO Publishing said in a statement. “This may be an indication that companies are being cautious about their own plans until they have more assurance that the economic improvement they expect to see will last.”