CSR 2010 Resolutions and Predictions From Business And Social Sector Leaders: Part I

With a plethora of challenges (and opportunities) facing our world, I wondered what resolutions and predictions business and social sector leaders would make for 2010. So I asked people who have a wide variety of perspectives, all of whom are deeply involved in understanding and addressing vital issues facing local and global communities.

The responses are eclectic, ranging from strategic to personal, including a poem and a personal story. I divided the responses into two posts; this is the first. I'll give my resolutions and predictions in a third post. Please share your own resolutions and predictions in the Comments section below.

The Question: What is your resolution or prediction for corporate social responsibility (CSR) in 2010?

"I want the world to understand that the future of this world lies in the hands of a 12 year old girl.  She will either bear the next generation of poverty or presidents.  If we can recognize the power of her potential to bring stability and prosperity to the world, we can start to make real progress in 2010."

"Three interrelated predictions: First, we will see the continued growth of what I call the empathy economy, which puts a premium on people over short-term profits. Second, digitally empowered consumers will demand corporations have purpose--ethical business models. Finally, my recent trips to Asia suggest that China, a rapidly growing consumer market with an enormous need for accountability, presents a huge opportunity for companies to develop ethical brands that consumers can trust."

[Resolution] "To ensure that my team remains responsive to nonprofit organizations in this tough economic climate, while maintaining the focus of our company's philanthropy and employee engagement efforts on the areas of cultural heritage, leadership development and community service."

"Businesses today better understand the importance of being an integral part of the broader community.  With the start of a new year and a new decade, I hope that CSR efforts undertaken by firms in the US and globally, will advance to the next level.  My resolution is that Clifford Chance attorneys will help lead this initiative with our pro bono work, volunteerism and non-profit board leadership."

"In 2010, I see growth for CSR:  the best corporations will beef it up, fully integrating it into strategy. CSR will continue to evolve from its low point (cynical exercise in fig leaf placement) to higher ground (fundamental part of successful strategy).  The incentives are compelling.  Corporate leaders face a witches' brew of stockholder unrest, dependence on public largess (what happened to capitalism?) and social media-fuelled revelations about actual CSR results.  Pragmatists will see reputational risk, adjust and CSR will benefit."

"My prediction for 2010 is that several Fortune 100 companies will match their external promotion of CSR with the hiring of high profile executives to lead their efforts. It will be a real signal that CSR is core to their business and neither a PR strategy or seen as a passing fad."

"For us, 2010 will be all about integration.  Like many companies, Deloitte has launched some very compelling initiatives over the past few years, such as our $50 million dollar pro bono program, our Deloitte Center for Leadership and the Community that provides training and leadership development for top Nonprofit Executives, and other skills-based volunteering programs.  The key now is implementation and, specifically, embedding these initiatives into the everyday way we do business."

"As the debate over healthcare reform continues, companies will increasingly evolve to view employer-based or -subsidized health insurance as a responsibility rather than a burden. Going beyond premiums and co-pays for doctor's visits, health care coverage will ultimately recognize physical, social, and behavioral obstacles to good health and provide employees with the necessary tools to increase their productivity and overall well-being."

  • Rebecca Onie, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Project HEALTH, and 2009 McArthur "Genius Award" winner

"The insensitivity shown by many of the financial firms on 'Wall Street' in 2009 and the anger it has engendered, should raise the profile and need for Corporate Social Responsibility even further in 2010."

  • Bruce Klatsky, Partner and Co-Founder, LNK Partners; Vice Chairman, Human Rights Watch; formerly Chairman and CEO, Philips Van-Heusen

"Kiva relies on corporate partnerships with dozens of leading corporations for literally millions of dollars of in-kind services.  These relationships are absolutely essential in our having made over $100 million of microloans possible to entrepreneurs in need. I see a growing interest among businesses seeking to participate in global service where they can see the impact.  My resolution for 2010 is to deepen and broaden Kiva's corporate relationships so that we can help even more entrepreneurs move out of poverty, thereby improving their lives and communities."

  • Premal Shah, President, Kiva

"My prediction: Businesses will continue to grow more aware that when all members of the community are well educated and employed, then that's good for business and the economy.  My resolution: To engage more businesses in our highly effective work in making public housing neighborhoods places of hope, growth, and economic mobility."

"Education is rarely a hot topic in American discourse, but I predict that will change in 2010. Our collective success depends on educating children well, and we can no longer ignore that in this economy. 2010 will spark more conversations than ever about human capital, merit pay, collective bargaining, and teacher evaluation systems to advance student achievement. With a democratic president blurring political lines to choose ideas over rigid political platforms (backing traditionally republican ideas like choice and competition), in 2010 we can edge politics out of a ring that has knocked children out of their own bright futures for decades."

"This year will see dramatic increases in investment in emerging markets, where 9 in 10 people are poor or low-income. Innovative new business models must go beyond conventional CSR to meet their distinctive needs. My new year's resolution is to help investors and businesses to serve these underserved people, generating strong profits while changing and saving many lives. Last year, LeapFrog launched the world's first microinsurance fund, raising nearly $50 million. This year we plan to double that, enabling us to bring insurance to 25 million low-income people in Africa and Asia."

"My new year's resolution is 'improve communication' with clients, funders, board members and employees.  I know it's so important yet I always seem to prioritize 'getting something done' ahead of it and then the communication of all the things we've done never happens.  So this year 'getting the communications done' is going to get prioritized!"

  • Stephanie Cuskley, Chief Executive Officer, NPower

"Hopefully, in 2010 the idea that successful corporate human rights strategies come from the heart rather than from rules, regulations and lawsuits will take root among lawmakers and officials. We will continue to contribute to a good corporate human rights climate by bringing together companies and NGOs at grassroots level and by assisting them in developing joint initiatives bottom-up."

 

"I hope that this year we move past the cliches

'It's the right thing to do', 'It's in our DNA'

How do we measure our progress, for one?

How do we know what's been said has been done?

 

"On the personal side, I'll continue to coach

Young MBAs and others who hope

For a career in big business that shows that we may

Do well and do good -- oops, used a cliche..."

 

  • Christine Bader, Advisor to the UN Secretary-General's Special
    Representative on business & human rights, former Manager of Policy
    Development, BP (twitter)

 

Don't forget to share your resolutions or predictions for CSR 2010 in the Comments section below. Look for Part II in my next post.

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1 Comments

  • Chris Pinney

    Our 2009 survey of American business leaders (the State of Corporate Citizenship) showed that most now understand that corporate social responsibility is part of operating a successful business in the 21st Century. The central challenge for many, however, remains how to integrate CSR into the core of business strategy and practice. This issue of alignment and integration, I believe, will dominate the CSR journey for most firms over the next decade.
    Central to this challenge is measurement. The truth in business that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” applies in spades to the CSR field and the critical next step for most companies is to develop metrics for understanding and measuring the business value of CSR. In this context, most current CSR metrics and reporting are designed to meet external stakeholder needs and have little connection to the way the business is actually managed. Companies need to develop CSR reporting metrics directly linked to their performance management and improvements systems that can in turn support and drive business innovation and results. Recent research by Mckinsey and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship shows leading companies are doing just this and suggests that CSR will become an important business innovation driver as we move into the coming decade.