Global CSR policies will create new challenges and opportunities for internal collaboration
Companies worldwide will have to navigate through new CSR requirements. In India, for instance, the India Companies Act, a legislation passed into law in 2013, mandates that companies of a certain size donate 2 percent of their net profits generated by the Indian entity to social impact initiatives. While this has created an opportunity to increase the scope of companies’ existing programs, it has also presented the challenge of determining the degree to which these investments and programs will align with corporate strategy and procedures developed at headquarters. Companies and our clients at Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) impacted by this legislation are determining if adjustments should be made to partner criteria, vetting standards and focus areas, and if so, how to create a cohesive story.
Employees will have greater influence over CSR efforts
A trend led by technology companies, but likely to expand into other sectors, is companies placing a greater emphasis on employee opinion to determine the issues they address and the partners that they choose. Organizations such as Yelp and Yahoo Employee Foundation empower their employees to “champion” an NGO they are passionate about to compete for funding. This strategy is closely aligned with research such as Deloitte’s Millenial Survey 2015, which indicates that millenials select employment opportunities based upon a sense of purpose and believe that corporate leaders should place a high priority on contributing to local communities and the wider society. With an increased proportion of millenials across sectors, employee-influenced giving and CSR is likely to grow.
Collaboration with local and city government is on the rise through civic engagement programs
More companies are taking a cue from the foundation world in recognizing that collaborations with local and city government agencies are leading to greater impact on community issues. IBM’s Smarter Cities challenge, for example, is a well-respected model whereby IBM partners with cities to provide consulting and technology support to advance work in areas such as public safety and emergency management. Interest is growing across professional services firms and technology companies in launching initiatives that leverage expertise, influence and investments to improve infrastructure, build capacity and increase efficiency. A recent example is Amazon Web Services’ City on a Cloud program.
Companies will align efforts around global intergovernmental initiatives
The coming year will present an opportunity for companies to align efforts around intergovernmental initiatives. In December 2015, the annual Conference of Parties (COP21), also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will aim to build on 20 years of UN negotiations with the goal of achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. If COP21 results in an international, intergovernmental agreement, companies across various sectors will need to collaborate with each other and government to achieve the parameters outlined in the agreement.
Additionally, frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are enabling companies to share their best practices and partner together through efforts such as the Impact 2030, a business-led effort fostering the power of employee volunteer investments to promote the achievement of the SDGs. Operating within a framework with shared goals will encourage increased partnership and collaboration.
Increased transparency will drive industry partnerships and positive change
The fact that investors, consumers and governments are requiring greater transparency from the private sector is nothing new. For instance, in the US, technology companies such as Pinterest, Slack and Twitter have increased transparency by disclosing their internal diversity data. These voluntary disclosures have led to the sharing of resources, best practices and learnings. For instance, several tech companies have shared corporate training resources on unconscious bias and inclusion, benefitting the entire sector. Additionally, through the Dodd-Frank Act, certain US companies are now required to report on conflict minerals across their supply chains, and early reports show that this measure is beginning to drive positive change, reducing the presence of conflict minerals across a wide range of industries.
The push for transparency is global in nature with laws such as the EU’s requirement that large companies annually produce reports, which address "social, environmental and human rights impact, diversity and anti-corruption policies". Greater transparency will lead to increased industry-wide collaboration and progress in various social issues.
About the Author
Maeve Miccio is the Vice President for Corporate Responsibility at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a US-based comprehensive center of philanthropy providing visionary leadership, strategic grantmaking and world-class expertise to donors worldwide.