This post analyzes current developments in CSR and it predicts four ways the author expects CSR to develop in 2011. Briefly these are: CSR evolves into a company-wide policy, CSR will become more transparent and also more gain greater visibility with customers and service users, the entire supply chains will be expected to perform to the same standards of CSR as the core companies themselves, and more reporting and contrasting will become publicly available and will enable the public to better evaluate company CSR performance.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices continue to expand and evolve as companies marry their CSR policies more and more efficiently to their daily practices. Four trends that I expect to see accelerating throughout 2011 have already shown promising signs in recent years. During this year I will continue to find stories that reflect some of the best and most creative implementations of CSR practices that companies employ.
The four trends that I expect to see grow are; CSR is a company-wide policy and will be managed daily and not just by a department, CSR will be more transparent in operating terms but also more visual for customers and service users, supply chains will be expected to perform to the same standards of CSR as the companies themselves, and finally more reporting and contrasting will be available for public consumption perhaps most usefully benchmarking within industries such as restaurants, automotive and hotels will provide more comparable and tangible data to help evaluate company performance.
1. CSR is a company-wide policy and will be managed daily and not just by a department. The evolution of CSR from being handled within a specific department like we would HR or marketing was the primary approach taken by most companies 5-10 years ago. Since that time there has been a slow but steady movement toward building a CSR model within your entire infrastructure of operations. So that your accounting department are as aware of CSR goals as procurement or sales. This change will only see positive outcomes as the methodology of a corporation’s approach to CSR will become a far more integrated part of their daily business. It creates more opportunities and far greater gains in terms of employee engagement, much like consumers the employees of companies are also looking to bigger corporations to ‘walk the talk’ and combine shareholder satisfaction with social responsibility. It might be one of the most encouraging trends in recent years.
2. CSR will be more transparent in operating terms but also more visual for customers and service users. Making CSR more transparent is not as easy as it sounds but the hybrid of mid-and long-term planning is making this more possible than it was just a few years ago. I believe that for many companies in the first five years of the century CSR was viewed as a fad or transformation that wouldn’t necessarily last and may have been expected to evolve into something very different. Thus short-term plans were made to at least have a CSR program which would typically attack the low hanging fruit such as recycling and charitable donations. Over the last decade however CSR has evolved into the wider-reaching scope that we see today, where employee working conditions, hiring practices, supply relations, environmental issues, community contributions, reinvestment in infrastructure, fair trade and many other topics for within the umbrella of a CSR program. Larger corporations have now taken on board the expectation that the public expects certain key targets to be outlined and also reported on, simultaneously companies have done a much better job in benchmarking 5 and 10 year goals and reporting annually which in turn inspires potential customers and clients.
3. Supply chains will be expected to perform to the same standards of CSR as the companies themselves. The evolution towards better supply chain management provides a win-win for business and the community/environment. When a large corporation deals with perhaps hundreds or thousands of suppliers and holds them to standards of operation in terms of CSR which match their own objectives it can only level the playing field and create a more uniform practice of standards. While it will certainly take investment it also creates a distinct competitive advantage for suppliers who are most aggressive at implementing practices that reflect a progressive approach to CSR. The recent news also that the United Nations have added CSR standards to their global legislation also enhances the likelihood that a more refined global approach to social responsibility is closer than it ever was.
4. More reporting and contrasting will be available for public consumption. Finally I feel that a significant change will take place over the next few years in terms of benchmarking and evaluation of CSR performance. To date most companies with thorough CSR reporting tend to break it up into environment/energy use/community/technology/trade which does provide important information but to a certain extent the public sees a company doing ‘things’ which are automatically considered to be good but a serious approach to properly measuring and indexing CSR performance and most beneficially based upon specific industries and/or size will help create a better evaluation for all. Even companies with less than 25 employees that for example are in manufacturing could be governed by a body which evaluates the CSR performance in much the same way the Better Business Bureau operates. At the other end of the scale fair and proper indexing of industries such as airlines and car makers would provide the public with useful information when deciding whose product or service to use.
I’m keen to see how each of these four trends developed over the coming year and beyond and will encompass that within the blog this year. Do you feel there is a large trend on the horizon beyond these? If so please write and let me know.
© 2011, tmerrick. All rights reserved. Do not republish.