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Corporate Social Responsibility: Your 2024 Overview and Guide

Table of Contents:

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
   Types of CSR
   Key Benefits of CSR

See the Impact in Action: CSR Examples

2024 Corporate Social Responsibility Trends to Watch
   Sustainability as a Priority
   Continued Emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
   Ethical Adoption of AI
   Demands for Measurement and Transparency

How to Measure Corporate Social Responsibility with Groundswell

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business model that allows companies to find ways to create a positive impact on the world while pursuing their goals (such as revenue growth). You might also see CSR referred to as “corporate citizenship.”

As its name likely implies, CSR is all about ensuring corporations are aware of how they affect the world around them. It also encourages companies to be socially accountable to themselves, their stakeholders, and the general public. 

Practicing a CSR model means that a company must strive to operate in a way that betters society instead of negatively contributing to it. Rather than remaining neutral or operating as if they’re independent of their real-world impacts, CSR-focused companies take an active role in setting ethical standards for their industry. 

The larger or more successful a company is, the more numerous its potential corporate social responsibilities become. After all, a wider reach inevitably means more communities, environmental factors, and social norms fall under a corporation’s influence.

Types of CSR

While each CSR initiative or program is unique, most social impact efforts are centered around one or more of the following areas of corporate responsibilities:

  • Ethical: CSR programs focused on ethical responsibilities emphasize the importance of acting fairly. Actions like investing in better pay and benefits for employees and ensuring full transparency for investors are just a few ways that companies can pursue this commitment. 
  • Environmental: Companies that aim to preserve and protect the environment often operate in ways that reduce pollution and emissions, minimize waste, and create sustainable products.
  • Financial: This area of responsibility ensures companies “put their money where their mouth is,” so to speak, and back the rest of their CSR plans or priorities with financial investments. That often means donating funds, implementing DEI initiatives, or investing in things like corporate matching programs.
  • Philanthropic: CSR initiatives in this area prioritize giving back to society at large, whether that means donating to charities, creating employee volunteer programs, or supporting employees by matching their donations to the causes they care about.

Key Benefits of CSR

Consumers are more likely to trust companies that have benefitted them and their communities. They’re also more likely to see those brands in a positive light, which increases brand recognition (and, in turn, can support company goals like boosting profits).

Likewise, CSR initiatives ensure that employees are more likely to stay with a company. When employees feel like a part of something larger than themselves, their morale rises, as do their satisfaction levels. That means less employee turnover, fewer disengaged workers, and a spike in productivity. 

The benefits of CSR initiatives extend to a company’s finances, too. Investors view companies as more valuable and worthy of their investment when they see a focus on social impact. In fact, companies that are considered leaders in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts have an 11% valuation premium over their industry competitors.

See the Impact in Action: CSR Examples

Whether you realize it or not, you’re already surrounded by companies that have made a positive impact through CSR activities. There are plenty of examples of corporate social responsibility efforts that have boosted a company’s reputation and helped it continue to grow.

Take Starbucks, for example, which has invested $5 million in organizations serving young people of color to advance equity and inclusion. The company has also committed to achieving 50% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and water consumption by 2030. 

Ben & Jerry’s is another corporation that takes its social impact seriously. The company has a long-standing record of successful initiatives focused on sustainability. Recently, Ben & Jerry’s has begun putting its waste into methane digesters that generate energy to power its farms. It has also promised year-over-year increases in the number of Black-owned and -led suppliers it partners with. Meanwhile, the company aims to achieve an 80% reduction in its greenhouse gas intensity by 2050.

2024 Corporate Social Responsibility Trends to Watch

In 2024, the world of corporate social responsibility will continue to grow and change to match evolving expectations. Some of the biggest corporate social responsibility trends to be aware of this year and into the future include those below.

Sustainability as a Priority

Today’s consumers and employees are passionate about climate change, green technologies, and shifting away from a dependence on nonrenewable resources. A growing focus on sustainability is clear not only in the products consumers want to buy but also in the companies they choose to support. 

It’s no longer acceptable to consume resources without accountability or a thoughtful strategy to replenish them. Since large corporations are among the top contributors to environmental changes (positive and negative), they’re expected to lead by example, whether that means reducing emissions, creating greener products, or supporting nonprofits that protect the environment. 

Continued Emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

For the past few years, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace has been a key priority for many organizations and employees. CSR is now seen as a promising way to promote DEI within a company. 

Working with diverse suppliers or manufacturers, for example, allows a company to show that it cares about understanding different experiences and perspectives. 

Recruiting candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds and supporting causes that uplift these communities is also another example of how DEI can mesh with CSR.

Ethical Adoption of AI

Every industry will inevitably find itself faced with the question of how, if at all, to incorporate artificial intelligence into its practices. As these discussions begin, however, it’s important for companies to consider how to use AI ethically. The corporate social impact space will undoubtedly be touched by the impact of AI in 2024, and it’s up to individual companies to decide how they’ll respond to this change. 

Demands for Measurement and Transparency

It’s no longer enough to simply say you’ve invested in social impact efforts – consumers and employees, particularly younger ones, want to see measures and reports that quantify those actions. 

This trend is also influenced by global events like the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, a 2023 mandate that requires large and public European companies to track and disclose their sustainability metrics. Even companies that aren’t headquartered in the EU must comply with the mandate if they generate enough revenue in the EU and have at least one EU subsidiary or branch.

How to Measure Corporate Social Responsibility with Groundswell

With an increased focus on measuring corporate responsibility comes the need for a tool that connects you with meaningful data. A corporate social responsibility platform like Groundswell enables companies to track things like employee volunteer hours, employee donation amounts, and the funds they invest to match those employee donations. 

Groundswell gives you everything you need to create traceable and strategic corporate social responsibility events and campaigns within your company. Create personal giving accounts for your staff, connect with hundreds of causes, and deliver corporate grants with just a few clicks. 

See how Groundswell can help you support your CSR goals today. Schedule a demo with our team to get started.

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