Corporate Social Responsibility has come a long way. From companies thinking of CSR as a necessity to maintain their license to operate, to the proliferation of corporate philanthropy, to even the more recent integration of environmental sustainability into CSR initiatives, the function continues its evolution towards a broader scope. In June of 2020, we find ourselves in a similar situation: CSR is evolving yet again.
The current environment surrounding COVID-19, the economic recession, and most recently, global civil unrest, makes one thing clear: we are entering the age of corporate social justice, as Lily Zheng says in the Harvard Business Review. Zheng defines Corporate Social Justice as a reframing of CSR that centers any initiative or program on measurable, lived experiences of groups harmed and disadvantaged by society.
Prior CSR frameworks, especially those that companies have used to calibrate their strategy, haven’t necessarily included a consideration for this kind of social justice. So what can corporations do to adapt to the changing times?
Step 1. Identify The Disadvantaged Groups That Your Company Can Credibly Support
Step 2. Build Programs Through Channels in the Ecosystem Surrounding Those Groups
Step 3. Articulate How These New Initiatives Play a Role in Your Broader CSR Strategy
Corporate social responsibility often evolves when the world goes through a philosophical shift. At first, it was the idea that corporations too, had a social responsibility to the world. Then it was the expansion of what social responsibility meant from simply charitable giving to additional areas such as those outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In Summer of 2020, we are going through this again: CSR remains at the top of the corporate agenda, but today it also means that companies need to go out of their way to incorporate social justice into their approach. For companies that adapt in this way, the future is bright. It likely means a surge in engagement from the company’s key internal and external stakeholders: employees, suppliers, customers, regulators, etc. And this, we know, makes corporate social justice a have-to-have, not a nice to have.
Contact us further to discuss strategic and tactical steps you can take to launch a corporate social justice program today.