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The rise of the socially responsible business

Deloitte Global’s societal impact survey

As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, the collective corporate mindset is undergoing a dynamic shift. While profit remains a priority, the idea that business should be doing more to positively impact society has started to resonate across C-suites and boardrooms.

Deloitte Global’s societal impact survey seeks to understand how the actions of the past few years are influencing companies’ social responsibility initiatives, and what that could mean for the immediate future. It asks the question “can long-term views on social impact coexist with short-term demands for financial performance?” How does this impact the societal impact strategies of businesses?

The survey reveals that business leaders wholeheartedly believe companies are more than mere employers (93 percent), they’re also stewards of society. It’s a role surveyed leaders embrace. They are planning to take bigger stances on societal-impact issues (95 percent) in the coming year and are devoting substantial resources to socially responsible initiatives. Currently, a majority (59 percent) devote between one percent and five percent of their revenues to programs with a purpose, with two-thirds recording increases in budgets devoted to these programs over the last two years.

Deloitte’s research suggests C-suites in 2019 will likely become even more vocal and action-oriented as the rise of socially responsible businesses advances purpose along with profit.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, “Corporate citizenship  is now a CEO-level business strategy—defining the organization’s very identity.” Executives in this survey agree, saying societal-impact initiatives need to be tackled at the highest levels. Forty-six percent of respondents said CEOs and top executives play the most prominent roles in driving societal impact, and the same percentage said CEOs are the main drivers for corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in their organizations.  

Companies take a broad view when measuring the success of societal-impact initiatives, weighing the initiatives’ effect on their businesses almost to the same degree as impact on the beneficiaries. While profitability came out on top, the other factors such as employee retention, number of lives impacted, and number of geographies helped all play a similarly important role in motivating a company’s societal impact

Deloitte’s research suggests C-suites in 2019 will likely become even more vocal and action-oriented as the rise of socially responsible businesses advances purpose along with profit.

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