Why did companies suddenly give so much importance to Corporate social responsibility?
CSR is not another directive that came from “top”. CSR emerged as collective aspiration of people to participate in solving global problems of humanity on the level of organisation. A person driven by desire to make the world better in today’s reality is a new type of leader that takes the helm of an organisation and leads other people forward to prosperous future. Leadership style is also changing from hierarchy type to shared leadership. New leaders are future oriented people who know that building partnerships and networks is important in achieving common goals.
Many companies followed the CSR trend out of strategic intent. Marketologists have analyzed changes of consumer behavior and were able to build a portrait of typical customer, aka “millennial”, whose choices are predominated by an attitude towards innovation, technology, and “things” that really matter – people and planet. Consumers are much more environmentally conscious and socially responsible than they used to be. They want to know what is the story behind the product, they need to feel they make a positive impact on the environment and society. Creating such product is not an easy task, it gets you track the whole supply chain, the brand history, labour standards, charity efforts, the list goes on.
I believe that “adding value” is the key motivation factor for a modern person. People are no longer interested in paying for ‘features and benefits’ only, they look for new experiences, choosing lifestyle hotels, theme parks and healthy food – everything that reflects their own lifestyle. Consumers of today tend to buy the products made of safe materials, biodegradable package and from the companies which have good reputation and CSR practices. Every morning I hear an advertisement of “sustainable” meat on the radio. Now I don’t want meat other than “sustainable”.
People are politically and socially active, they have access to information and take advantage of it, which is another pattern of changing behavior – an interest in participating, co-creating.
Today we see the whole cities and countries are competing for highest achievements in line with SDGs goals, driven by social and ecological agendas, crafted and promoted by community and global organisations, supported and implemented by policy makers.
Achieving sustainable development implies that each individual, each company takes full responsibility for its impact on the environment, doing the business responsibly, minimizing the harm and contributing to shared values. Environmental management and CSR should not be just add on strategies to the company business model, but it’s core value and the basis of its functioning.