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CSR Trends to Watch in 2017

6 CSR Trends to Watch in 2017

(The following article which first appeared on Forbes.com is being shared with permission by the author, Susan McPherson)

In the past decade, we’ve witnessed a stunning transition as corporate social responsibility (CSR) evolved from a nice-to-have silo to a fundamental strategic priority for businesses large and small. More recently, we’ve watched as companies went beyond their own walls, using their influence to advocate for global solutions around issues such as climate change, education, poverty, and equal and human rights.

As we embark on 2017 — a year that’s likely to be fraught with political uncertainty and policy upheaval – the big question for CSR is: what happens now? Like many of my peers, I predict that under new challenges and changing regulations, companies won’t just uphold their commitments to sustainability – they will be at the forefront of global progress like never before.

We reached out to CSR experts to get their input on how the new administration will impact corporate sustainability, what other trends will emerge in 2017 and how the industry will continue to evolve.

A Commitment to Sustainability Regardless of Political Changes

Tim Mohin, chief executive at GRI, echoed the belief that sustainability will remain a priority for corporations: “2017 will obviously be a year of great changes! It is likely that many social and environmental regulations will be weakened. This has happened before. I can recall a similar circumstance when I worked at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Reagan years. The strong backlash back then created a major change, including the bi-partisan Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The difference this time is the rise of corporate responsibility. While these words would have been considered an oxymoron in the ’80s, today most big companies are committed to reporting on their environmental and social impacts and continuously improving their performance. This will not change because it is now engrained in company reputation and brand.”

Dell’s Chief Responsibility Officer, Trisa Thompson, provided her take on why commitments to sustainability will not waiver: “Completely regardless of the global political environment, corporations will continue the march toward sustainable production because it makes sense and is a business necessity.” It’s also become a criterion for working with certain partners: “We are seeing an increase in sustainability and social responsibility show up as a weighted factor in RFPs, particularly from European Governments,” Thompson said.



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