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CSR vs Profit: How To Strike A Balance

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Globally, there is growing concern about the impact of business on the environment and society. It is not enough for businesses to get financial returns only; they need to get social returns also. Corporate social responsibility or CSR is when businesses are conducting sustainable business activities in a manner that has a positive impact on consumers, employees, communities, the general public and the environment. An increasing number of companies have started promoting their businesses by applying CSR strategies because the customers, the public and the investors expect the business people to do business in a sustainable and responsible manner.

1. The world is changing. Here’s how companies must adapt

Although we have only seen the beginning, one thing is already clear: the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the greatest transformation human civilization has ever known. As far-reaching as the previous industrial revolutions were, they never set free such enormous transformative power. If we get the revolution right, digitalization will benefit the nearly 10 billion humans inhabiting our planet in the year 2050. If we get it wrong, societies will be divided into winners and losers, social unrest and anarchy will arise, the glue that holds societies and communities together will disintegrate, and citizens will no longer believe that governments are able to fulfil their purpose of enforcing the rule of law and providing security. That’s why the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not just about technology or business; it’s about society.

That’s the reason today, stakeholders – customers, shareholders, suppliers, employees, political leaders, society as a whole – rightfully expect companies to assume greater social responsibility, for example, by protecting the climate, fighting for social justice, aiding refugees, and training and educating workers. The business of business should be to create value for society.

2. More and More CEOs Are Taking Their Social Responsibility Seriously

As a result, more CEOs, companies and organisations are taking their social responsibility seriously. We are witnessing a big, transitional moment – akin to the transition from analog to digital, or the realization that globalization is a really big deal. Companies are beginning to realize that paying attention to the longer term, to the perceptions of their company, and to the social consequences of their products is good business. However, the question, then, is: why now? Why are more and more mainstream players taking this seriously? An expert from Harvard Business School explains.

3. The evolving roles of CSR and corporate philanthropy

The age-old debate about what encompasses corporate social responsibility almost always begins with a question that makes community relations managers and foundation directors shift in their chairs with varying levels of indignation: Is philanthropy CSR?

One simple answer: No, of course not.

But that answer suffers from a limited understanding of CSR. It doesn’t take into account the potential of business to help address challenges faced by our planet and society. The answer then might be: Corporate social responsibility is not just philanthropy.

4. 8 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Trends To Look For In 2018

In 2018, the companies will expand their activism on, and investment in, the issues that matter to their employees, customers and communities. Here are some key trends to look for. Expanding diversity conversations, Prioritizing privacy and data protection, shifting from disaster recovery to climate resilience etc.

5. Corporate Social Innovation is the New Corporate Social Responsibility

“Corporate social innovation” is the latest advance along the continuum of corporate social responsibility, which began in the 1990s when many companies embraced worthy community causes in areas where they operated. Programs focused mainly on the company’s reputation and license to operate, with little direct connection to their bottom line. For example, Microsoft initiated an annual Employee Giving Campaign, where employees attend fundraising events for nonprofit organizations.

Some intriguing CSI examples are emerging. To name one: Shell Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the oil giant, formed a strategic partnership with Husk Power Systems, a biomass electricity generator. In five years, Husk has installed 84 mini-power plants, providing electricity to more than 200,000 people in 300 rural villages in India. By electrifying villages, Husk is promoting economic development, as businesses are able to stay open after dark and children can study at night. Impact investors Acumen and Oasis Fund have contributed funding to the venture.

WTD News is partnering with X Billion Action Lab for the 9th UN Young Changemakers Conclave on 27th October, at the US Consulate Lawns in Mumbai. Join us as we discuss #ReimaginingPurpose with the Gaurav Gupta, partner & Asia Director at Dalberg Advisors at the event or on our Instagram.

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