Timothy J. McClimon specializes in cultural management, nonprofits, and heads the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. In an article published on the American portal of Magazine Forbes, he offers his view on the development of CSR this year. Although the pandemic crisis has certainly shaken the cards a bit in this area as well, in the basic outlines his observations undoubtedly remain valid.
The year 2019 was a major turning point in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR), as the concepts of corporate responsibility and sustainability received significant media attention. McClimon says 2020 promises to bring more challenges and opportunities to the area, and said leaders should pay attention to the following evolving trends in CSR:
1) Emphasis on truth
Although transparency and open communication have long been expected of companies, these values alone are no longer enough. In a world of fake news, alternative facts, and the ability of social media to spread lies about the world, people are not just looking for the truth, but want the search for the truth to become a requirement for business. We can thus expect more emphasis on the involvement of external auditors, who will verify that the information that companies share is transparent and accurate.
2) Achieving carbon neutrality
Today, companies are being asked not only to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, but to reduce them to zero. More and more companies are using renewable energy sources and carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality, and the idea of ”zero waste” is becoming more common in the workplace.
3) Employee support
Employees are increasingly calling for corporate leaders to be involved in their communities and affairs in ways that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Leaders are very likely to be expected to take part in political discussions at local and global levels, and to be held accountable by their employees for their actions (or inaction).
4) Finding meaning rather than enthusiasm
Although enthusiasm and enthusiasm are still essential for the management of companies and civic associations, more and more people are realizing that emotions are sometimes fleeting, but the deeper meaning lasts longer. The movement to create a corporate sense, a way to inspire employees and engage customers, is a recognition that meaning can be a more lasting driver for companies and their social responsibility.
5) Finding another big goal
The concept of corporate social responsibility has existed since the 1970s, and corporate philanthropy has existed for more than a hundred years. The idea of sustainability is decades old, and the commitment of companies and employees to “bring back society” through volunteering has existed for a similarly long time. And what will be the next big thing? Many investors and insiders offer the idea of ESG reporting (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) and “shared values”, but these concepts may seem too academic to the average consumer or employee. In any case, next year we can expect new concepts and ways to promote the idea of responsible corporate behavior.