Can you tell that corporations are changing the way they previously conducted their businesses? In our ever-changing environment, business owners (and their consumers who expect nothing less) are searching for new ways to impact their communities. As our society continues to pivot from the full lockdown effects from COVID-19, more corporate social responsibility trends are emerging and some are here to stay.

3 CSR Trends To Stay

1. The Continuation of Virtual Community Engagement

COVID-19 has forever changed the way companies communicate with their employees, stakeholders, and communities. Over the last two years, we have seen firsthand how impactful these methods of communication, in the form of webinars, virtual team meetings, and more, have proven to be, and will continue to be, for the future of corporate social responsibility.

There are numerous benefits of virtual community engagement, such as accommodating workers who live in different areas of the world and ensuring the safety of employees following the pandemic. According to the World Bank Blog, these virtual meetings “also include lowered operating costs and a reduced carbon footprint of companies.”

Furthermore, in a recent article by Sterling Volunteers that discussed nonprofit and volunteer perspectives and individuals’ access to volunteer opportunities (both virtual and in-person), it was stated that “90% of volunteers gave positive responses” to such initiatives.

The article also stated that last year, 65% of volunteers voted in favor of “supporting particular causes,” a rise from the 48% of volunteers in 2020.

Some trends that have emerged from virtual volunteerism since the 2020 pandemic include:

  • An increase in volunteerism due to technology (Social media and online searches have significantly helped grow this trend)
  • A focus on hybrid volunteer engagement, which will give communities more options of volunteering virtually or in-person
  • A shift in generational volunteerism, with Millennials and Gen Zs leading the pack on volunteer involvement

Organizations who strive to make a difference in their communities through volunteerism have a huge advantage over businesses who put their focus elsewhere. Although we are in better circumstances following the global pandemic of 2020, we foresee virtual community engagement remaining at the forefront of CSR trends for years to come.

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CSR is an important factor in brand reputation.

2. Measuring CSR Impact

An important trend that companies will continue to see rise over the upcoming years will be an emphasis on measuring the impact relating to CSR initiatives. There are numerous metrics that go into measuring a company’s impact, such as employee engagement, social return on investment, and customer growth and retention, and consistent monitoring of these metrics will help ensure CSR success.

With there being many metrics that can affect the impact of a business, it can sometimes be unclear as to which ones have the most direct influence. In a 2021 report by the Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, PhD graduate, Shirley Lu, has been tirelessly working to determine how companies measure the impact of CSR efforts.

She said, “What firms do in terms of corporate social responsibility can have incredible impacts on the world. But if we really want to know that impact, we have to be able to measure it.”

In 2022, it’s imperative that corporations take an active role in tracking key metrics to measure how their products and services are impacting the communities they serve. The more comprehensive CSR measurements are, the more companies will be able to make lasting contributions and see exponential growth within their businesses.

3. Corporations’ Involvement on Current Events

Another trend that is here to stay is companies taking part in initiatives that positively impact their communities. More and more consumers are opting to purchase from brands who take an active part in pertinent world issues.

In a 2021 Deloitte Global survey about Millennials and Gen Z’s stance on companies’ approach to social change, responsibility, and impact, it was found that these generations “believe businesses are focused solely on their own agendas or that they have no motivations beyond profitability.”

Furthermore, the survey stated only 47% of Millennials felt companies were positively impacting society. This low percentage, which dipped from 50% in the previous year, amplifies the notion that businesses need to be doing more for the community in order to gain consumer support.

Cisco, for instance, is making a huge wave in the corporate social responsibility space with their response to racism and discrimination. Their campaign helps fund 16 nonprofit organizations who are working to create better environments for marginalized groups. With over 3100 supporters for their fund, this company is not only talking the talk, but walking the walk regarding the betterment of their community.

As companies become more vocal about ongoing paramount topics, such as COVID-19, racism and discrimination, and environmental matters, society as a whole will be better equipped for making these necessary, lasting changes.

New CSR Trends for 2022

The Necessity of Equity and Diversity

Fair opportunities, differentiated support, and an inclusion of people from all backgrounds are extremely important CSR trends that we will see in 2022. Equity and diversity in the workplace is taking the lead as more corporations are conducting trainings that focus on these issues and providing solutions to build and maintain trust, commitment, and a safe work environment for their employees.

In the upcoming years, you can expect to see more companies making diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority within the communities they serve. In 2021, DMCG Global conducted a survey that gave insight on how diversity, equity, and inclusion affected career decisions of marketing industry professionals. The survey concluded that 55% of respondents would find new places of employment if there were no DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) incentives in effect, and 77% agreed that these much needed incentives have a “positive impact on workplace belonging and job satisfaction.”

DMCG’s survey depicts what business owners, employees, and consumers have been witnessing firsthand for the last few years — people want to be acknowledged, included, and given fair opportunity in their place of employment and these rights are non-negotiable.

Equity and diversity efforts are rapidly growing and will remain at the forefront as generations like Millennials and Gen Zs continue to push for workplace change.

Employee Volunteer Programs

An excellent way for companies to simultaneously build team morale, increase job satisfaction, and play an active role in the community is through implementing employee volunteer programs. This is a trend that is continuously growing, and we will surely see its impact in 2022.

Virtual volunteering has increased tenfold since COVID-19, with many corporations and its employees offering services to their community, like online tutoring and mentoring, live training classes, or administrative services to nonprofit organizations.

Volunteer programs can have a lasting, positive effect on our society, and now is a great time for corporations to look at these programs from a wider perspective to ensure they are the best fit for all involved parties.

CSR Projections for 2022 and Beyond

The 2020 global pandemic was an eye-opener for many people. As consumers look to their favorite brands to help lead the way with effective CSR initiatives, these companies now have a social responsibility that they must uphold.

It’s important that companies take note of what is working and what can be improved upon to not only create success within their internal communities but also within the external communities they serve.