In order for companies to build long term and effective CSI strategies it is important to track current and emerging issues.
The information therefore provides insight into CSI and how businesses can respond through engaging these issues in a proactive manor that will leverage trust and respect from stakeholders, who are influential in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility.
The information serves to enhance company’s reputations and brand whilst assisting in developing effective and comprehensive business strategies.
CSR is an evolving concept and is no longer random charity or philanthropy. It is now looked upon as a key to business operations, sustainability and development.
Businesses have an intrinsic relationship with a large segment of the population through employment provision and labour markets, service provision, commodity markets, environment and resource use. The complex problems of today’s poor cannot be solved by the state, civil society and international development organizations alone.
The business sector has emerged as a key player and needs to accept responsibility and work in collaboration with these entities to address social issues
Climate change remains the key concern of expert stakeholders. Companies are seen to be allocating more resources to this issue. The climate change agenda is now rapidly shifting from strategies for mitigation to a new emphasis on adaptation.
Companies are going to have to demonstrate that they are reducing regarding their own carbon impacts as well as working in partnerships with others on adapting to climate change.The new emphasis on energy efficiency and green building practise enhances this commitment.
There has been significant increased concerns over the way that companies are governed and the way that decisions are made. The future is seen as one where companies will have to be increasingly transparent and accountable. New corporate governance structures are seen as being at the heart of new models of economic sustainability.
Those governance structures will be more inclusive and will better represent the views of a wide range of stakeholders. Pressure from a new breed of socially responsible investors will increase the pressure on businesses to behave in an ethical way.
Labour and Human Resources
The treatment of workers within organisations and down supply chains is likely to remain of high concern for theyears to come. Concerns over appropriate wages levels, discrimination, workplace conditions and child labour are of utmost importance. A new emphasis on decent work in a context of protecting human rights is emerging.
Supply chain rationalisation and new CSI strategies by first-tier suppliers will reduce the need for traditional auditing. Within organisations work-life balance will be increasingly important and companies will increasingly recognise the benefits associated with diversity and inclusion strategies.
The way that businesses impact on the environment is likely to come under much closer scrutiny. Environmental performance will increasingly be part of company’s reputation and brand. A particularly worrying aspect of environmental change concerns the availability of clean and safe water.
Loss of biodiversity and changing land-use are also increasingly going to be hot topics. Sourcing activities will integrate environmental concerns.New infrastructure developments are likely to have to take into account a broader set of environmental concerns.
Alliances with Stakeholders
Stakeholder engagement will increasingly develop into meaningful partnerships between the private sector and those able to tackle local and global challenges. This will see increased collaboration with both government and local communities. Businesses will have to demonstrate how they are working with others to tackle the sustainable development agenda through innovative community investment strategies. New innovative models of partnership based on social enterprise andsocial entrepreneurship will emerge.
Leadership & Regulation from Governments
The current trend to embrace environmental issues including labour and provisions of new requirements for CSI reporting have been intensified to further this agenda. Regulations in place in Europe covering mandatory reporting and disclosure are likely to be replicated in Asia, Africa and the rest of the globe. Other regulatory pressure is likely to come from stock exchanges, securities regulators and institutionstasked with tackling health and safety.
Community Investment and Pro-Poor Development
Companies will have to demonstrate that they have positive impacts on the communities where they operate. In the least developed parts of the region businesses will be increasingly involved with pro-poor community investment projects, micro-finance initiatives and programmes to encourage entrepreneurship. Community investment strategies will increasingly involve climate change adaptation and responses to environmental challenges.
There will be a new emphasis on community education initiatives. Contributing to poverty alleviation and community health initiatives will be seen as an important part of the wider agenda for business who will increasingly have to measure their community impacts.
Concerns over product quality, product safety and health concerns over product use are increasing. Companies are likely to have to take more measure to ensure a range of safety and security processes are in place. Better labelling, including more information on country of origin, ingredients and carbon impact will emerge.
Boycotts of products and of brands are set to increase with increased sophistication of consumers and a lack of trust in the power of regulators to protect them.
The era of broader CSI Professionalism
The role of CSI managers within organisations will be better recognised. An increase in professional courses and better quality education on CSI will help to increase the understanding of what CSI is and the value of having a CSI function within the organisation.
A growth in certification and qualifications around CSI will help to enhance both the professionalism and the credibility of CSI managers.
In many parts of the world bribery and corruption will continue to reduce the amount of economic activity and continue to have a negative impact on the marginalised.
However, at the same time there must bean increase in investigation and reporting of bribery and unethical conduct, often supported by governments, increasing the risks to companies seen as complicit in such irregularities. Companies will have to demonstrate a proactive strategy for dealing these issues.