By: Amy Bretherton
The excitement of kicking off a new year coupled with the spotlight on corporate social responsibility has most of us gleefully diving headfirst into our cause programs. Let’s pause for a moment and take a look at some of the new trends we will encounter in 2019.
Focus on Gen Z – companies will move beyond Millennials as Gen Z hits the workforce. This generation, born between 1995 and 2015, is even larger. Research shows that a company’s impact on society greatly affects Gen Z decisions whether buying products or choosing where to work. Companies hoping to attract Gen Z employees must offer them the opportunity to lead a life of impact. As consumers, this generation will continue to pressure companies to be more sustainable and ethical.
Broad collaborations – more companies will cross industry lines to work together to address social issues. New alliances will be formed and large scale partnerships will be established with B2B and government collaborations. Companies will think and work differently in the cause space and publicly share what they learn.
Tech companies – which have largely stayed in the environmental space will place a greater focus on CSR as they address important social issues such as privacy, fake news, cyberbullying and the impact of increased screen time.
Alignment between CSR and procurement – companies will dig deeper into what they buy and sell. Supply chain audits and ethically sourced product lines and packaging will become the standard. Consumers are looking beyond the surface to ensure that the products they buy are not causing harm. They are increasingly boycotting companies that fail to do their due diligence. CSR strategy will convey all the way through the supply chain.
Evaluating progress – companies will invest in technology to demonstrate the social impact of their partnerships, products and programs. Smarter use of data through artificial intelligence will create more focused CSR strategies to help meet business goals. Social listening will enable companies to respond to concerns in real time and correct course. Diversity reports will take on increased importance.
Authentic communication – employees will become more involved in CSR initiatives by taking the lead using social media platforms to share stories at an individual level. Customers will hear how their purchases truly make a difference. There will be a move away from highly-branded content to authentic content that demonstrates a sense of purpose in corporate culture and business practices.
Workplace training – there will be greater emphasis on education surrounding equality, diversity, sustainability and supply chain responsibility. This will create a multi-layered approach to CSR which will become embedded in the corporate structure. Diversity in advertising matched with CSR strategy will help companies reach new markets and improve business performance.