Is Social Impact Here to Stay?

 

Understanding CSR Campaigns in Today’s Media Environment.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic created fundamental changes in the way businesses operate. One business trend that has gained momentum over the past two years is corporate social responsibility (CSR), the notion that companies have a responsibility to promote the broader good in their community and the world.

CSR recalls elements of stakeholder theory—a corporate practice stating that businesses should seek to generate returns not just for their shareholders, but also for the communities in which they operate. Stakeholder theory – which largely fell out of favor in the 1980s – has seen a recent resurgence in the forms of CSR and social impact, which grew in prominence amid the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 2020s, as Ethos Giving Founder and CEO Emily Kane Miller would say, social impact has gone from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” for organizations across a wide range of sectors. Still, many C-suite and communications teams often wonder: Is CSR here to stay? Or is it merely a pandemic era fad destined to fade from memory?

Through its work with Ethos Giving, Miller Ink provides a wide range of communications services to support organizations’ social impact goals. Below, we have compiled some of our most commonly received questions about social impact. Our answers seek to shed some light on the intersection between social impact and communications and answer the question many executives have pondered over the last 27 months—does social impact matter, and should I invest in it?

Implementing CSR practices is a big investment for businesses. Why should businesses work to become more socially responsible, and is it worth their while?

Over the past five years, CSR has evolved into a need-to-have, where social impact is baked in companies’ missions. More and more, consumers are starting to make purchasing decisions with their conscience. They’re increasingly likely to research a company’s founders and employees, supply chains, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) before purchasing a product or service.

Many executives and owners ask, “Why CSR?” Businesses have a lot of space, power, and capacity to make an impact in ways that government cannot. For the first time in decades, consumers expect companies to leverage their resources to make a difference. Consumers want to know that they’re giving their money to good people and that ethical decisions are behind the products they buy. The public is paying careful attention to exactly how companies deliver social impact messages, and they’re sniffing out what is real and what is a façade. Customers vote with their dollars, and businesses do not want to fall on the wrong side of these new expectations.

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