CSR Round-up: Our Favorite Reads this February

To keep your employee engagement program heading in the right strategic direction, we’re keeping up our promise of serving you fresh social impact and corporate giving news and insight at the beginning of every month. With 2019 well underway, here’s what we’re witnessing so far.

Across the space, we’ve been noticing an uptick in brands using their voice to challenge the status quo. With Microsoft pledging $500 million for affordable housing in Seattle, Stella Artois promising to provide a month of clean access to water for every purchase and Ben and Jerry’s pulling plastic spoons and straws from its brick-and-mortars, it’s becoming evident that companies are walking the walk by aligning their business practices with purpose.

As 2019 unfolds, I think we’ll see more and more of these positive stories make their way through the news cycle. Is your brand next?

Take a moment to read through these seven CSR articles to get a better sense of what’s happening in the space. Then, consider how you might align your strategy with these trends and best practices as you chart your course for a year of success.

Amid Government Shutdown, Here’s What Companies Are Doing To Support Federal Employees
David Hessekiel for Forbes

In what was “the longest national government shutdown” in our nation’s history, furloughed employees missed out on the paychecks they need to sustain a living during the first weeks of 2019.  More than a dozen companies – from Airbnb to Kraft to Walmart to Unilever – stepped up to support government employees and do their part in protecting our national parks.

Engage for Good founder, David Hessekiel, highlights company responses that stood out most.

Microsoft Pledges $500 Million for Affordable Housing in Seattle Area
Karen Wise for The New York Times

Here’s the bad news: rent prices in America’s largest tech hubs, like San Francisco and Seattle, are increasing. The good: in January, Microsoft announced plans to address their hometown’s housing crisis by investing up to $500 million in middle- and low-income housing programs.

Other companies are following suit. Through Partnership for the Bay’s Future, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente and the Ford Foundation, among other philanthropists, pledged $500 million to address the rising cost of housing in the Bay Area, which is in part attributed to the tech industry’s presence and expansion in the region.

For Consumers, CSR is Now More Important than Price
John Howell for Triple Pundit

A recent report by Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based research and consulting firm, finds while “affordability has always fueled people’s buying decisions…. [Now] most people are willing to pay a little more for a product or service coming from a socially conscious brand.”

The report concludes that consumers are more likely to approve of companies who give back to the community and practice social responsibility – definitely a good read on how consumer attitudes are influencing corporate messaging in this evolving landscape.

Your Exclusive Discount to Engage for Good 2019
Basil Sadiq for Volunteering is CSR

If you’re looking for an exceptional conference to attend this year, where you’ll learn how to activate your employees and consumers through purpose and have plenty of opportunities to network with innovative brands and your peers, then you’ll want to attend Engage for Good in Chicago. Learn more about the conference and take $100 off your ticket with code “VM100”.

What Will 2019 Hold for Corporate Social Impact Programs? Leading Experts Weigh In
David Hessekiel for Forbes

Leading CSR experts predict brands will move away from highly-branded content to authentic content that demonstrates their social impact through transparency They also expect “inclusion” to become a major buzzword, with sustainability and social impact dominating industry conference session topics and conversations.

Experts suggest that giving professionals should listen to their employees and customers, be ready to refresh their strategy, gravitate toward sustainability and demonstrate leadership and bravery in their efforts.

Brands Taking Stands™ January Newsletter
John Howell for Triple Pundit

January’s Brands Taking Stands™ newsletter sums up many of the trends we’ve highlighted in February’s round-up, so it’s a good read to hammer home what you’ve learned.

Earlier in this post, we shared a recent report from Clutch. In this 3BL Media newsletter, the author cements those findings by citing another recent report from Accenture titled From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand. The report’s findings confirm “consumers are no longer making decisions based solely on product selection or price; they’re assessing what a brand says, what it does, and what it stands for.”

Are these corporate giving trends and social responsibility insights consistent with what you’re seeing? Share your favorite reads with us in the comments section below.

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