CSR: Spotting Trends for 2011

In my last post, I did a wrap-up of CSR in 2010. It only seems fitting that I continue the theme and attempt to spot trends for next year.

Social Media:

Social Media is going to play an even bigger role in CSR. It will not only help in exposing the greenwashers but will also play an important part in stakeholder engagement. Companies have already begun to realize this and have started to have active dialogues with their market base via Twitter, Facebook etc and this is only going to continue next year. With CEOs, CSR managers, HR and PR managers all blogging and tweeting, social media will be the way to go for instant news, jobs and better CSR action.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) & Social Entrepreneurship:

If 2009/10 was the year for increase in awareness of the sustainable business model, 2011 will be the year for social entrepreneurship and SRI. CSR is the founding principle upon which both are built on. Many entrepreneurs are making their way into a market that is  increasingly competitive due to environmental constraints. Added to this, VC funding is more readily available for green ideas - these two factors alone will open more doors for social entrepreneurship. Whilst SRI is already gaining ground in Europe, it is expected to increase in the United States this year post-recession.

Private and Public Sector Crossover:

This is probably the ultimate win-win situation, and it is already happening. Larger non-profits will begin to see increased pressure to be more transparent. Companies needing better structure to their CSR initiatives will more likely tie up with local and international NGOs for guidance. 2011 will be the beginning of the knowledge share between the two sectors and it will be exciting to see how it enfolds. Hopefully this will put pressing issues like biodiversity conservation and human rights under the CSR lens and more companies will start taking note of these problems.

SME Involvement:

Saying that SMEs will start reporting CSR is more unlikely than the above, but there is no denying that SMEs are beginning to realize the importance of CSR. CSR will be a great leveler of the playing field and I reckon we will be seeing more evidences of SME involvement in CSR.

Moving Away from Traditional Notions:

The trend I would most like to see is for CSR is the move away from traditional notions of it being social work or charity or philanthropy, which will be slow in coming. Many companies, even in the East are beginning to realize that CSR is much more than this and the trend is that they will continue to increase the profile of CSR through better balanced initiatives. It is desperately needed for businesses to take into view environmental and social damage into their cost of operations and CSR will play a role in this much needed accounting.

Many in the CSR field are closing the year with much optimism and faith that things will continue to change for the better. Perhaps this is the most encouraging trend of all!

Photo Credit: Flickr