Is Corporate Social Responsibility just a Fad?

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

There's no denying that prioritizing CSR, Environmental, Social, and Governance issues as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goalshave seen an incredible increase among all sorts of businesses and industries worldwide in the past few years. But will it continue to be a hot topic?

At plus305, we specialize in brand differentiation through CSR and Sustainability. The other day, a client asked me if CSR wasn't just a fad. Our answer is Yes and No. Here is our theory: one factor that will continue to be important for your brand, company, and NGO is reputation and stakeholder trust. Because the need to trust is deeply rooted in human nature and behavior. CSR has been very valuable in humanizing brands. You instinctively trust a brand more that appreciates its employees, helps children in need, or protects the environment.

Furthermore, a study by Label Insights has found that 94% (!) of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.

In today's world, loyalty is rare. We have too many offers and choices. So brands will depend more and more on stakeholder loyalty. These are just two reasons why CSR is definitely here to stay in some shape or form, and there are many more. If it will be replaced, however, then by something even better: Corporate Social Innovation. I first learned about CSI at the Babson College, the US’ number one college for entrepreneurial education. The two Senior Fellows in Social Innovation, Bradley Googins and Philip Mirvis, define it like this:

"A strategy that combines a unique set of corporate assets (innovation capacities, marketing skills, managerial acumen, employee engagement, scale, etc.) in collaboration with other sectors and firms to co-create breakthrough solutions to complex economic, social, and environmental issues that bear on the sustainability of both business and society."

Their white paper called The New Business of Business: Innovating for a Better Worldexplores how the three interlocking challenges businesses face today unite to drive CSI:

The three interlocking challenges businesses face today are shareholder demands for growth, employee desire for meaning from work, and rising public expectations that they address social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Many brands are leveraging their resources to innovate. Wrangler is just one example of innovative brands using CSI to better the world. So it is definetly something worth looking into more.

And last but not least:

A lot of our clients at plus305 do a lot of good but they don't talk about it.

Sometimes, it is because they want to be humble and sometimes because they think it may be just a fad. What we have seen, however, is that Authentic Stakeholder and Impat Marketing will help you increase your social, environmental, and economic impact. 

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