The State of CSR: 7 Predictions for 2011

What’s on tap for CSR in 2011?  At Fenton, we predict:

1. The continued growth of cause-marketing programs thanks to the improvement in tracking the ROI of such campaigns. Companies that would have previously been reticent to take on such programs now are more confident in doing so. Many will also engage with leading NGOs to raise significant funds for specific causes ranging from environmental initiatives to global healthcare programs.

2. With the continued explosion of social media and networking, we will see increased collaboration between sustainability professionals as well as the growth in the trade associations and events/conferences that serve these professionals.

3. CSR reporting by companies of all sizes will continue to grow and personally, I believe that GRI will lead. Measurement will continue to be key and senior management will expect data from any sustainability programs established.

4. We’ll also see more mainstream publications dedicating resources to covering CSR in addition to the various print and online journals that already exist.

5. Greenwashing will continue to be on the mind of consumers and with the expected update to the FTC’s rules; we’ll certainly witness companies being more careful when launching marketing campaigns. These will further lead to an overall theme that we’re hoping to see: A theme that embraces the truth and the practice of “good business.”

6. Employee engagement programs will accelerate and be run like traditional advocacy campaigns giving them the opportunity to have real impact. As more corporations witness the benefits that these programs offer, such as increased employee retention, and brighter candidate pools for job openings, they will spread rapidly.  Already, since the first of the year, we have held discussions with several Fortune 500 firms that are in the process of creating global platforms to simplify the process of employees to participate.

7. Sharing the good news.  Previously, companies too often held-back their CSR communications, believing that sharing such info would not serve as an advantage for the company or might even lead to the perception of greenwashing. No more. Companies are wanting to share their results with their customers, partners, employees, shareholders and all other stakeholders.

Bottom line: If companies are indeed authentic, truthful, transparent and mindful, consumers, shareholders and employees will benefit. A win-win-win!