Corporate Citizenship 2014: Five areas for continued action

As we start 2014, we have taken some time to reflect on the work of the last year and where we see the field headed. The Center has had the privilege to work with companies in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa this year and our membership reflects this diversity. While the individual issues being addressed by companies may differ across global regions, the questions are essentially the same at their core:

Are we helping to create the type of world we want to do business in?

Even more importantly, are we helping to create the kind of world we want to live in?

We applaud our corporate member community for the significant progress we have seen over the last year in advancing corporate citizenship and we look forward to providing resources to support their continued progress. Some areas where we expect to see continued action in 2014:

  • As reported in the Center’s 2014 research report—Profile of the Practice—CSR continues to be more deeply embedded in business as more executives realize that positive environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures correlate to positive financial performance, improved reputation, and solid risk management. The practice is managed at higher levels, corporate citizenship leaders are better compensated, and more companies establish both board committees and official budgeted departments to manage their programs.
  • As we approach the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, social investment becomes as prominent a topic as environmental sustainability in the United States market as the bottom 90% of earners continue to face increasing economic challenges and uncertain employment.
  • As competition for skilled workers continues more companies see employees as a primary audience for their corporate citizenship and employee volunteer programs become increasingly important in corporate citizenship portfolios. Companies also recognize the value of communicating corporate citizenship to employees and internal communications networks gain importance.
  • The global economy continues to promote innovations in global corporate citizenship brought about as sustainability practice and social investment ideas are reinterpreted across international boundaries and regional social norms.
  • Taking a page from corporations that have collaborated to create industry-specific voluntary standards--GRI, SASB, CDP, IIRC, DELPHI, and ISO begin work on a multi-lateral partnership to combine all of the assets that each has developed to create a comprehensive baseline assurable standard for ESG reporting. The exchanges adopt this universal standard and variations are managed by exception. (Admittedly a stretch, but a girl can dream, right?!)

Where do you see the action unfolding? Add your predictions or send us ideas for topics you’d like us to investigate in future research or briefings.