Businesses have come a long way from the days when their only goal was to increase profits. Today, many companies recognise that their social responsibility also extends to the communities and environment around them and that they must adopt new CSR trends and initiatives to remain competitive in an increasingly complex global economy.
Deloitte defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a “business’s approach to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits”. As well as contributing to a more ethical future, research has shown businesses with strong CSR programs are also more competitive. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Ethical Advantage report, businesses with a reputation for behaving ethically can increase the return on their assets by 7 percent. In other words, shareholders, business buyers and consumers are voting with their dollars and choosing to invest their money in companies they see striving towards a sustainable future. But the benefits are not just in sales or investments; staff turnaround can also be improved, as employees seek to work in companies that act responsibly.
As Australian workers and companies continue to adjust to a new way of working and living after the disruption of 2020 and 2021, now is the perfect time to take a look at your future CSR plans. Here are the five CSR trends we see making waves in 2022 and beyond.
CSR trend 1: Diversity, equality and inclusion
Across the world, businesses are increasing their commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion in their workplaces, as well as supporting minority-owned businesses in their communities.
Many workplaces are providing internships and entry-level positions aimed directly at minority groups, or removing barriers to minority job applicants, such as the requirement of a university degree, in order to increase diversity in their business. Companies are also looking to address gender imbalances and the gender pay gap, with some even making public commitments to achieving gender balance within a set timeframe.
The benefits of increased diversity and equality are numerous, including access to a wider talent pool, increased innovation, access to a greater range of perspectives within the business, increased profits and better employee performance, such as faster decision-making and problem-solving.
CSR trend 2: Investing in local communities
The social and economic disruption in 2020 and 2021 have brought a renewed focus to local communities. Many small businesses have struggled to survive, which of course has reverberations across the community.
Companies are also recognising the value of local markets and supply chains, not just as a means to reduce carbon emissions and lower supply chain costs, but also to tap into local talent and solutions, as well as reduce the risk of supply chain disruption.
As a result, companies are looking in their own backyards and seeking out ways to engage in activities that will benefit their local communities. This could include supporting local charities, sponsoring community events or sporting teams, hosting educational workshops or programs and partnering with small businesses.
CSR trend 3: Green technology and solutions
As countries across the globe commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, the imperative to be environmentally sustainable is stronger than ever and businesses across the country are leading the way in this space.
Investing in green technology is not only good for the environment though. Green office practices and solutions have been shown to improve employee productivity, deliver cost-savings, improve business reputation, increase staff retention and attract new talent.
Kyocera has long advocated for environmental sustainability, as well as green office solutions, and we are proud to help our customers reach their own sustainability goals with green technology, such as our ECOSYS range of long-lasting and environmentally friendly printers and MFDs.
CSR trend 4: Increased transparency in business operations and practices
In response to the ever-increasing availability of data, and consumer and shareholder demands of once private information, business buyers and consumers want organisations to be honest about their inner workings, particularly their environmental, social, and governance disclosures. For example, businesses that have committed to gender balance goals are expected to show they are making genuine steps towards that goal with honest reporting of gender balance statistics in the years up to their target date.
This desire for increased transparency is also in part a response to heightened data regulatory oversight, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Australia’s Notifiable Data Breach (NBD) legislation. As a result of these changes, consumers want to know how companies are using and protecting their data upfront.
Greater transparency leads to more trust, from consumers, shareholders, employees and the general public – and trust leads to an improved reputation and, eventually, greater profits. We expect increased transparency is a CSR trend that will only grow in the coming years.
CSR trend 5: Virtual community engagement and volunteering
With the large-scale shift to remote and hybrid working in recent years, many companies were obliged to move CSR efforts to the virtual space. Whether it be sewing pouches for injured animals during the Australian bushfires or supporting the isolated through virtual emergency support, there are myriad ways companies can find creative avenues to help their community remotely.
One advantage businesses have is the talent and skills of their employees. According to PwC, the demand for skilled volunteering is on the rise, especially in areas related to business continuity. Skills commonly requested by not-for-profits (NFPs) are in marketing and fundraising, workforce planning and restructuring, finance and innovative financing mechanisms, as well as legal and compliance support – all skills employees can easily contribute whether they’re in the office or at home.
To further encourage employees to take up such virtual volunteering opportunities, businesses can partner with specific charities and NFPs to create programs that employees can get involved in. Companies can also offer ‘volunteer leave’, where employees can take paid leave to work with charities and NFPs of their own choosing.
As companies transition to a hybrid work model, virtual community engagement and volunteering are sure to remain a key part of businesses’ CSR initiatives.
Which CSR trends will you adopt?
As we head into 2022, being a socially responsible company is not simply the right thing to do, it is also expected by business buyers, employees, shareholders and end-consumers. Those with well-developed CSR programs will reap many benefits, including greater public trust and an improved ability to attract customers and talent – all of which will ultimately boost your bottom line.
With concerns about the environment growing globally, many organisations are looking for measurable ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Download our guide to learn how you can adopt sustainable business practices in your organisation.