October 20, 2018

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CSRlive Commentary

07.01.2010 - 01:00PM

Category: Academia

Key Trends from Engage CSR 2010


Originally posted on the social persuasion blog

Today I attended my first virtual conference, Engage CSR 2010: The Growth of Corporate Social Responsibility in a Socially Connected World by PR Newswire. Despite my initial concerns about quality and the ability to interact with attendees, I found the experience to be quite rewarding, largely thanks to the great content provided by a stellar list of speakers and the virtual event technology provided by inexpo.

The conference appeared to be well attended, and in viewing the live tweets and chat thread on the conference site, attendees seemed to appreciate the wealth of CSR content and best practice guidance on the latest initiatives. With the growing pressure on corporations to be socially responsible, and as individuals in the workplace seek greater personal fulfillment, the role and significance of CSR in organizations both large and small, for profit and not for profit, is clearly increasing in importance.

For those of you that missed the conference, here are some key takeaways that I gleaned from the sessions I attended:

1. Crowd-sourced philanthropy to continue as companies learn and embrace the movement from direct control to more open campaigns. Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething, discussed how progressive companies like Pepsi and Chase have learned to trust the final voting decisions of the general public for cause projects such as Pepsi Refresh and Chase Community Giving. She also mentioned that with openness, it was important for companies to keep a close eye on Chinese religious groups such as the Falun Gong as many of these groups with large followers have learned to spread their influence online. (Fodder for another post at another time)

2. Mobile (cell phone numbers) to replace email addys as companies seek more secure environments and engagement with younger stakeholders. I've written before about the huge growth in mobile, and that any marketer needs to seriously consider how to address the shift with consumers moving from computers to smart phones. For CSR professionals and not for profit organizations, the message is the same: get ready to integrate mobile into your existing and future stakeholder campaigns.

3. GRI reporting increasingly being reviewed by investment advisors and financial reporting services. Mike Wallace from the Global Reporting Initiative presented compelling data on how many public companies are now participating in sustainability and GRI indexes and how this information is now accessible to stakeholders. Kevin Moss, head of Corporate Responsibility for BT, suggested that in the near future, companies may move toward integrating their GRI reports with their annual reports to better link sustainability indicators to KPIs and financial goals.

4. CSR slowly moving from Corporate Communications towards Performance Management. While every corporation may call the CSR by different titles and place the function within different departments, Merck's Director of Corporate Responsibility, Maggie Kohn, noted that in her organization, while the CSR function originated in Communications, under her leadership she was able to align the function more closely to performance management, ultimately creating a standalone department.

5. Consumer desire and expectation for companies to engage in direct conversation about CSR actions and commitments will fuel more consumer engagement initiatives. According to a recent Cone survey, 74 percent of Americans expect companies to engage in conversations online about their corporate social responsibility. Timberland's CSR Strategy Manager, Beth Holzman, showcased the company's Earthkeepers consumer engagement website where Timberland is able to directly link CSR actions and commitments to opportunities for consumers to directly participate.

While CSR continues to mature and secure acknowledgement at the corporate level, I am hopeful that with more discussion in various online communities about the need for the addition of social value creation as a key performance metric, we'll see the shareholder first mentality evolve into a more progressive and socially responsible framework.



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