The Road Ahead: Trends in Corporate Social Impact in 2021 and Beyond

The 9th Global Pro Bono State of the Practice Report
Apr 27, 2021 11:00 AM ET

Business is Relied Upon for Societal Change

Business leaders carry the power and responsibility to champion societal change. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Report, COVID-19 “accelerated the erosion of trust around the world”—except for trust in business. In fact, the general population views the private sector as more trusted, ethical, and competent than NGOs, the government, and the media. Corporate leaders have been and will increasingly continue to be looked to for leadership in addressing the world’s most pressing problems, including but not limited to climate change, racism, healthcare, and economic inequality.

COVID-19 demonstrated the gross inequality present in public healthcare, while the murder of George Floyd opened a wider dialogue on systemic racism and historical injustices. Both sparked a growing movement to tackle racism in the United States and across the world. Despite the grim news and realities 2020 presented, there is a glimmer of hope. According to PYXERA Global’s upcoming report, The Road Ahead: Trends in Corporate Social Impact in 2021 and Beyond, companies are engaging their talent to address pressing societal issues, like racism, healthcare inequities, and economic inequality.

The Road Ahead: Trends in Corporate Social Impact in 2021 and Beyond

PYXERA Global launched the Global Pro Bono State of the Practice survey in 2010 to deliver an overview of program formats, implementation methodologies, evaluation techniques, and best practices in the field of skills-based volunteering. With survey data dating back to 2008, the longevity of this initiative provides a uniquely robust understanding of the practice as it grows and evolves. The Road Ahead: Trends in Corporate Social Impact in 2021 and Beyond, which pulls from nearly 30 corporate survey responses, of which nearly half are part of Fortune’s Global 500, is set to launch this May. With respondents based in Europe, North America, South & Central America, and Asia, the report provides a global perspective on trends in corporate social impact.

This year’s report looks towards the future and provides best practices and guidance for corporate leaders seeking to keep abreast of trends and be trailblazers in the field of Global Pro Bono. Corporate changemakers engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability, DE&I, HR, ESGs, talent development, and community engagement can use this report to not only innovate surrounding their social impact programming, but also to convey the value proposition of Global Pro Bono programs. 

Global Pro Bono Proves to Be a Rapid-Response Tool for Corporations to Address Immediate Social Challenges

A key insight from survey data reveals that racial justice will mold the Global Pro Bono practice area for years to come— changing the field of community and employee engagement moving forward. Nearly 1 in 4 companies indicated anti-racism and racial justice as one of the top social impact priorities for the future Global Pro Bono programming. Racial equity and justice are top of mind for business leaders, with one community engagement manager saying, “We really increased our focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts due to COVID and the murder of George Floyd. This will mainly show up in the social mission organizations we work with…”

Similarly, survey results show that companies have played and will continue to play an active role in addressing the repercussions of COVID-19:

  • 74% of companies reported Global Pro Bono programming playing a role in their company’s response to COVID-19
  • 58% of companies expect their Global Pro Bono program to support the global economy’s recovery

If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated the valuable role of employee engagement programs—particularly Global Pro Bono programs—as a rapid response mechanism for companies to address the world’s most immediate needs, whether that is a pandemic, an economic slump, or a racial justice movement. In the report, PYXERA Global shares how companies can quickly pivot their programming to address urgent challenges and maintain relevance in the eyes of their stakeholders.

Report Finds CSR Leaders Have Growing Responsibility Within Their Companies

As companies continue to be key players in helping to solve global challenges, much of this responsibility is falling largely on the shoulders of CSR professionals. The role of CSR leaders is shifting. In fact, 25 percent of CSR leaders have reported an increased level of responsibility and importance within their companies, in addition to other ways in which their role has evolved recently.

With such changes, CSR leaders will need to heed to the rising importance of robust sustainability metrics and reporting metrics, such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. In the report, PYXERA Global provides guidelines on how business leaders might begin aligning their employee and community engagement programming within the framework of the company’s overarching ESG strategy.

Stay Tuned for More Critical Insights into the Trends in Corporate Social Impact

For more on the findings above in addition to other insights, such as the future of in-person programming, stay tuned for the upcoming report, sponsored by SAP, coming out this May.