The Move Toward Greater Social Responsibility: What is CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has increasingly become a standard business practice for American companies and a requirement for companies hoping to attract top talent.

In its broadest terms, CSR describes a company’s efforts to improve society. These efforts range from donating money to nonprofits to implementing environmentally-friendly policies in the workplace.

Thanks in part to the millennial generation, there is now a premium placed on CSR efforts. A study by Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse reported that “81 percent of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.”

Additionally, according to findings from the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, “More than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average), and two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).”

Given that millennials make up the fastest-growing force in the marketplace, it is no surprise that companies have been responsive to customer demand. In the last year, corporations have given $17.8 billion to charities, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, and 93% of the world’s largest 250 companies now publish annual CSR reports.

From a public affairs perspective, the growth of CSR has been one of the most interesting trends to watch. Companies have begun to understand the importance of these programs with a 360 degree view – not just something the company should do because it is cool, but one that can have major impact on the business, overall corporate reputation, and employee satisfaction.

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