Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has long ceased to be a trend. It’s serious business. As an organization, you really can’t get away with it these days if you don’t take into account your impact on the environment, the people you work with, and society as a whole. But how do you do that in concrete terms and where do you put the focus? Difficult questions, where the answer will differ for every organization. However, one thing is certain: in 2021 you cannot ignore the following four CSR trends.
CSR-trend 1: Sustainable products
Consumers are increasingly realizing that the choices they make have an impact on society and nature. They are therefore increasingly opting for products from brands and stores that have an eye for their broader social and ecological impact. Figures from the Brand & Society Monitor by b-open and MarketResponse show that 78% of consumers value the social role of companies. And a quarter expect to consume more sustainably this year than a year earlier. It is mainly younger generations in urban areas that are driving this development and it can therefore be expected that this development will continue.
This movement on the demand side of the market offers opportunities for innovative companies, but also risks for companies that do not comply. Particularly in sectors such as personal care, energy, food, housing, clothing and transport, the demand for green and responsible products is increasing, while the piece of the pie that remains for companies that only care about their own profit is shrinking.
CSR-trend 2: ESG-investments
Not only consumers, but also investors want more green companies. So-called Environmental, Social and Governance data, or ESG data for short, is playing an increasingly important role in determining which companies receive investments and which do not. In four years, the global value of assets where investment decisions are made based on ESG data has doubled to $40.5 trillion by 2020.
This development also offers opportunities for companies with green ambitions, and risks for companies that do not. For your future opportunities on the capital market, it is therefore important to integrate CSR goals into your business operations, to make results measurable and to report according to ESG criteria. Empact is happy to help you with that.
CSR-trend 3: Greenwashing is really outdated
A logical consequence of the two ‘trends’ mentioned above is that as an organization you want to show your best side to the world. There’s nothing wrong with that. It becomes more problematic if companies pretend to be more sustainable and responsible than they actually are. We call this phenomenon greenwashing. Think of deodorant with the label ‘based on natural ingredients’, but where that base is enriched with quite a few synthetic chemicals. Or think of banks that show their support for all kinds of green initiatives, but meanwhile earn a lot of money with this.
This was never actually possible, but from now on it is really no longer possible. On April 21, 2021, the European Union launched the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). This law obliges every company with more than 250 employees to provide insight from 2023 about the impact of their business activity on people, the environment and society, according to standards set by the EU. This information must then also be checked by accountants to ensure that the information is actually correct. In other words: no large company in Europe can present itself even greener than it is, without running into the light. A good case!
CSR-trend 4: Becoming climate neutral
One of the greatest societal challenges of our time is to stop global warming. There is only one way to do this: by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That is why it is clear to everyone that no organization can do business in a socially responsible manner without significantly reducing its CO2 footprint. Or better yet: by taking the lead and striving for a company that emits no net greenhouse gases and therefore has no influence on the climate. We call the latter being climate neutral.
The CSR trend of 2021 (and that of the next ten years) is therefore to be climate neutral by 2030. Danone, The Body Shop, Dopper, Tony Chocolonely, Microsoft, The Guardian, Vodafone and Allbirds, among others, have promised not to emit a gram of CO2 from 1 January 2030. Maybe something for you too?