What are the top five trends in CSR for Q1, 2011?

Feb 28, 2011 10:00 AM ET
(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) February 28, 2011 - The 2011 year promises renewed investment in CSR and sophisticated approaches like complex collaborations, international engagement and responses to climate change. Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) has been monitoring activity in our membership group, nationally and internationally as we move towards a post-recession CSR landscape in Canada. With a great deal of activity in play, these developments rose to the top of our list for Q1. What do you see on your CSR landscape?

1. Embedding CSR into business plans continues
Through the recession, CBSR has seen many member companies focus on CSR planning and visioning, while maintaining current program levels. We now see firms beginning to execute on plans that further integrate CSR, with the support of leadership. The social and environmental governance structures that embed CSR within companies do vary by sector. Many companies use a focused CSR governance framework such as CBSRs, but recent work with our banking members highlights how companies with strong corporate governance have embedded CSR into existing controls.

2. Emerging international frameworks shape company practice
Canadian companies continue to follow with interest the ongoing work of the United Nations to bring together government, industry and civil society to advance CSR. The UN’s Special Representative on business & human rights Dr. John Ruggie’s “Protect, Respect and Remedy” human rights framework 

has already been consulted by CBSR members Nestlé and Export Development Canada. The level of wide international support and energy around the framework and guiding principle consultations is encouraging. The UN Global Compact has also just launched a new sustainability leadership program called LEAD with CBSR members Talisman and Teck participating.

3. Climate change adaptation gaining attention
Adaptation to climate change complements carbon footprint reduction by preparing for climate change impacts that cannot be avoided. We are already witnessing initiatives driven by governments, and industries such as mining and extractives, agriculture, insurance, transportation, real estate and tourism. From vulnerability assessments and emergency response measures to insurance products against climate related damage and shifting developments farther away from the coast – Canadian industry is adjusting operations and decisions in response to a changing climate.

4. Collaboration and partnerships address the trust gap
As a sophisticated form of stakeholder engagement, collaboration is an important way to take CSR performance to the next level. Consumer attitudes still show a lack of public trust in business that can be ameliorated by strong collaboration with stakeholders.

5. The business case for CSR re-articulated
Both the response to the high profile 2010 Wall Street Journal article by Dr. Anil Karnani and the recent Creating Shared Value work by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer have re-articulated the case for CSR. While we have not seen the same level of debate in Canada as in the US, more and more of our members are able to articulate CSR as a strategic business asset. We recognize and value the additional profile and validation for CSR core concepts that has come from this recent commentary and debate.

CBSR members now receive a full quarterly trends briefing, of which this is a summary of key developments. Learn more about CBSR at www.cbsr.ca.