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The Trajectory of CSR: Where is it Heading?

Business World CSR

Corporate social responsibility has already deeply implanted itself in the worldwide economy, in the shape of government policies and corporate campaigns. As the concept continues to grow, current trends are beginning to develop that are gradually redefining and strengthening the presence of business altruism.

Government regulations are increasing, with more pressure on large companies to give back to their communities and extend their success outward. In 2013, India became the first country to implement a nationwide requirement of every company with at least a certain amount of revenue to create a corporate social responsibility board and report efforts in aiding national concerns. While these efforts are usually in the form of monetary donations, some companies, in India and otherwise, are more focused on using their resources to actively create change of their own. Corporations with an emphasis in technology are the modern-day leaders of such internal resolutions. ZMQ, an Indian tech company, developed educational gaming apps to help raise citizen awareness of AIDS prevention and safety measures. Local issues are being addressed as well, with many tech companies, such as IBM, forming initiatives to increase technical prowess and access in low-income regions. As expectations rise, company executives must adapt quickly to keep expanding philanthropic efforts cohesive with brand image and strategy alignment.

Change does not just come from the very top; company employees are receiving more agenda-setting power than ever, controlling how much a company gives and to what causes. According to a 2015 Millennial Survey, the newest generation of workers take corporate social responsibility into consideration when deciding where to apply. Many want to invest their efforts into a corporation that invests in its community and future. With that in mind, many interactive programs have been put in place by companies to give their employees direct say in where to contribute. For example, every year Yelp encourages its workers to become "champions" for organizations they are passionate about and present it to the company to vote for its eligibility to receive one of about a dozen annual grants, totaling over a million dollars. There are more matching gift policies than ever, in which an individual's donation to a nonprofit is doubled by their company. The first matching gift program was implemented by General Electric in 1954, and in 2015 alone they matched 43.5 million dollars' worth of donations. Some businesses even reward staff members for particularly generous altruism, from granting extra vacation days, to paying workers for every hour spent volunteering.

Consumers are also increasing their ability to interact and affect a company's social policy. According to Environmental Leader, 90 percent of citizens of the biggest global powers prefer supporting businesses that go above and beyond the minimum standards for giving set by the government. Thanks to social media, customers can have more direct access to a company's projected image and efforts, with 62 percent monitoring their actions or voicing their opinions. Corporations are increasingly unable to keep their conduct hidden, leading to more pure and universally beneficial practices. Some businesses have begun voluntarily releasing certain practices and policies on diversity and training, for the purpose of transparency and bringing their entire industry toward a more cohesive and beneficial approach.

Social responsibility is one of the few business models all major corporations have in common, inspiring measures toward united international efforts for good. The 2015 Paris Climate Conference brought 188 countries together to commit to reporting increasing efforts every five years of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, among other goals. These goals foreshadow an ever-increasing collaboration between federal governments and companies' expanding environmental sustainability efforts. Networking between the companies themselves is increasing dramatically, sharing strategies and policies for others to adopt. Impact 2030 aims for a private sector collaboration to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and give every company involved the proper volunteerism tools needed to make a large impact. In addition, reports on corporate aspects such as mineral usage, human rights, and anti-corruption are becoming increasingly mandatory, in an effort to keep social responsibility effective and visible to the public.

In general, corporate social responsibility will always be an effective business strategy that brings companies profit in the long-run, but the programs are evolving into the modern era and coming out of the shadows. More public interaction and awareness of global consequences lead to altruism efforts that reflect honest initiatives, technological innovation, global teamwork, and real change.