Key Corporate Responsibility Milestones in 2007:
- Companies ‘License to Operate’ obligations were forced to change due to world events, regulatory issues, compliance and environmental concerns
- Companies acknowledge that initiatives will have a major impact on business strategies over the next few years
- Growth of more evidenced-based research tracking the value and impact from multiple functions including brand, stakeholder relations, customer behaviors and reputation
- Increasing number of newly created executive positions
- Growth of dedicated resources and services including sustainability development firms, environmental, news services, academics and influencers’
- A plethora of social entrepreneurs, for and not-for-profit/NGO companies have provided concrete evidence that while striving to make a profit, they can make a difference
- Growth of multiple investment vehicles such as alternative energy mutual funds
- Philanthropic contributions polled among 136 large corporations by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s ‘Giving in Numbers’ research found that the median dollar value of contributions increased from $29.5 million in 2005 to $32.6 million in 2006
- Cause-related marketing is a $1.44 billion business
Predictions for 2008:
Step up to the New Rules of Reputation Management: Social innovation, sustainable development, trust and transparency are the new currency for tomorrow’s companies doing business.
Evaluate and Measure Program Impact: Assess current initiatives, stakeholder relationships and impact in the community. Use this platform to design and implement sustainable programs aligned with business objectives, as well as determine benchmarks for results measurement.
Employee and Customers Want Businesses to Invest in Communities they Touch: While health, safety, price and quality are top-of-mind for conscious consumers, they want companies to meet their personal goals and positively impact society.
Philanthropy is an Integral Part of Doing Business: CEOs and their companies need to continue to invest strongly in their communities, responding to the growing expectations of employees, customers and other stakeholders.
Move the Needle on Social Issues: There are plenty of causes out there that need support both at home and in emerging markets. Some critical causes in need include HIV/Aids, TB and malaria, poverty, infant mortality, wildlife preservation and protecting indigenous peoples.
Unleash the Power of NGOs for Greater Good: Align more aggressively with non-profit social actors – NGOs, (UN Agencies, development agencies). Companies have a timely opportunity to collaborate with some competent NGOs who are already in the trenches addressing key causes.
Stakeholder Liaisons: Harness the power of key stakeholders and communicate with them regularly on and offline. Solicit the knowledge and opinions of customers and employees. It is a powerful tool to track and influence patterns of behavior, and, don’t forget tomorrow’s leaders – the younger generation and their social networking habits.