Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been around for over a half century. Generally, CSR has come to include six types of corporate social initiatives:
- Corporate philanthropy – company donations to charity
- Community volunteering – company-organized volunteer activities
- Cause promotions – company-funded advocacy campaigns
- Cause-related marketing – donations to charity based on product sales
- Corporate social marketing – company-funded behavior-change campaigns
- Socially-responsible business practices – ethically produced products and services
With the exception of the few companies truly engaging in the last initiative (socially-responsible business practices), until recently most companies have administered their CSR program from the staff side of things in human resources or public relations departments. It simply hasn’t been central to line operations in most organizations.
Oh my, how the world has changed.
Today, constituencies including customers, employees, shareowners, and the community at large take great interest in CSR. And for the last several years a fast-growing number of companies have stepped up to an even higher bar—Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDG > CSR
The Sustainable Development Goals, set by the United Nations in 2015, are 17 bold, broad-based goals that cover social and economic development issues.
Here are the SDGs:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption, and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice, and strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals
There are 169 specific targets that, if reached, accomplish all 17 goals. While somewhat overlapping, the SDGs are gaining momentum and attention.
Employees, customers, shareowners, and the community at large increasingly care about these issues. As a result, companies are increasingly caring too.