The President and CSR

Nov 19, 2012 7:00 AM ET

Volunteering is CSR

We don’t know (yet) who our President will be for the next four years. Leading up to today’s election there has been a lot of buzz about the positions each candidate holds on various hot-button issues like abortion, clean energy, healthcare, economic development…

At VolunteerMatch, we focused on how the candidates would impact the areas in which we work, namely, volunteerism and civic engagement. An article published in Forbes last month asked the question “Which Presidential Candidate Will Increase Corporate Responsibility?” A very good question.

The article was written by Richard Crespin, a contributer to The CSR Blog. He came to the same conclusion that we did: Neither candidate will have much of an impact on CSR at all. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

Crespin explains his forecast with business reasoning – CSR has become “post-partisan,” he says, because companies are realizing the sound bottom-line value of being a contributing force for good in the community. In other words, CSR gives companies a competitive advantage.

This makes sense, but I want to look at it through a different lens. Neither candidate will impact CSR not because of a trend companies are adopting outside of partisan political strife, but because of the growing expectation of society that companies play a responsible role. Companies will care about CSR because their consumers are demanding it.

Studies (and boatloads of anecdotal evidence) show that as governments become unable to meet the needs of communities due to recession and other obstacles, companies are the ones increasingly stepping in to fill the gaps.

A recent study from Cone Communications revealed not one, not two, but five different expectations people have for the role of business in society. And only one of those expectations has to do with making money.

While I am as confident as Mr. Crespin that neither candidate could derail the path that business seems to be on towards more accountability and involvement, it is always true that the right candidate could amplify the good work that companies can do in their communities.

So whichever candidate ends up on top after today’s election, I urge all of us to lend our voices to the exciting and growing cause of CSR – together we can turn this post-partisan trend into a snowball of engagement and impact.