5 CSR trends to watch for in 2016

As far as corporate responsibility goes, 2015 had its ups and downs! We’ve watched as corporate scandals have blurred the line between good deeds and PR, and rejoiced to see many companies in it for the long haul as they’ve successfully aligned their goals to affect long-term sustainability.

Now that 2015 is winding down, it’s a great time to reflect on how far corporate social responsibility (CSR) has come in the last decade, and to look forward to the coming year. Here are five CSR trends you’re sure to see more of in 2016:

CSR ideas trends

  1. Mandated CSR reporting: While detailed reporting on CSR activities is now expected, many places, such as the European Union (EU), India and China, have taken it one step further and made it mandatory. What does this mean for reporting in the U.S.? Louis Coppola, from the Governance and Accountability Institute, feels that mandatory reporting may not be that far behind for American companies. In fact, publicly traded U.S. companies with more than 500 employees operating in the EU, and trading on any of the global exchanges requiring mandatory reporting, will be hit with this global mandate. Coppola suggests pulling in front of the coming regulations and mandates to prevent scrambling to be in compliance in the future.
  1. Long term CSR Goals: The UN’s recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable development goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all has shed new light on the effectiveness of focused, long-term CSR goals. Expect a shift from short-term, disjointed strategies to more comprehensive efforts like "Corporate Signature Programs". These programs require a significant, sustained commitment to a certain cause or issue. Organizations like Global Impact, who have researched the benefits of long-term global philanthropy, suggest that Corporate Signature Programs will have longer lasting relevancy to the employees and stakeholders of a company, and are the most efficient way to create permanent change.
  1. Larger focus on supply chain management: With accountability becoming more of a driving force behind consumer behavior, many businesses are going beyond internal corporate compliance and are expanding their responsibility expectations to third-party vendors. This shift is taking place in small and large businesses alike. This might look like a local coffee shop not only ensuring proper working conditions and benefits for resident employees, but also choosing to source supplies from farms and factories that practice sustainability and responsibility. Or, it might take the form of mega corporations, like Mars, making a public commitment to implement a zero-deforestation policy throughout their supply chains. This ripple of accountability has the potential to play a huge role in solving some of society’s most pressing issues.
  1. Data will play an even bigger role in philanthropy: The concept of “big data” has been on the radar for a while, but in 2016 it will play a bigger role in philanthropic activities. Take FrontStream’s real-time 2015 Giving Tuesday Dashboard, for example! FrontStream was able to capture real-time benchmarking information about online, social, and mobile giving on Giving Tuesday 2015, so that organizations can use the information to plan for success in 2016. On a global scale, organizations like the UN’s Global Pulse are already researching innovative ways to responsibly collect data from the private sector to benefit humanity. With strategic partnerships and careful collaboration between corporations and nonprofits, philanthropic big data will be on the rise in the coming years.
  1. Using social media for CSR reporting: The benefits of social media for marketing and networking purposes are no mystery to most corporations. A growing number of businesses are now using social media to report their sustainability activities. Sustainly, a company that researches sustainability and communications, reports that as of 2014, 273 companies have some form of dedicated social media sustainability efforts. That number has steadily increased each year since 2011! With the efficiency and global reach of social media for reporting purposes, 2016 will likely see a significant growth in social media sustainability reporting as well.

These five CSR trends are already successful with early adopters. In the next year we expect to see these innovative strategies move into the mainstream.

Want to learn more about how your company can start making a positive social impact with an effective CSR and employee giving campaign? Check out our ebook on how to get started with a company CSR!

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