1. There’s no real ROI involved
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    coins4-with-sproutFrom cost-savings, to increased productivity and engagement among employees, to increased brand value and appeal to investors, the return is not only real, but significant. Furthermore, a properly implemented corporate responsibility (CSR or CR) program will result in risk reductions, and a greatly reduced rate of turnover among employees. Example: IBM (a OneReport client) reported a turnover rate of less than 1% in 2013, compared to an average of roughly 10% across all industries. For more information, explore the Project ROI report, published in 2015.
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  2. It’s a form of brand management
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    Sure, your company’s brand will benefit, but this perspective misses the larger function of a solid CSR program. Each year, more and more “so-called” non-financial information is determined to be material to investors. The downside risk for not implementing a robust CSR strategy is rapidly becoming an issue that impacts bottom-lines first, and broader brand image, second.
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  3. It’s mostly about philanthropy
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    Though many programs utilize foundations and other philanthropic vehicles, the ultimate impact of these programs is more partnership than philanthropy. Through non-profit partners, companies are able to extend the impact of their efforts without needing to specialize in specific topic areas that may be outside the organization’s area of focus. Additionally, these partnerships provide employees with new volunteer opportunities that are connected both to their workplace and their local community. It’s relational, not transactional.
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  4. ny-stock-exchangeIt doesn’t matter for Investor Relations
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    If you’ve followed the trends among activist shareholders and proxy statements recently, you know firsthand that shareholders are more and more concerned with a triple bottom line. Not to mention it’s good business, as data consistently shows us that companies who actively address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues outperform those who don’t.
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  5. It’s optional
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    The rising generation of Millennials will prove to be the largest generation ever, and the primary benefactors of the largest transfer of wealth in recorded history, from their baby boomer parents and grandparents. This new generation has been characterized by their concern for social and environmental issues, and shows a strong preference for investing in and working for companies that have a social mission and are conscious of their environmental impact. The future is now, CSR is a mandate for any company that seeks long-term profitability and success from the investments of rising generations.
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  6. It’s only for “environmentalists” & B corporations
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    Even though your brand identity and target markets may not focus on being green or socially-engaged, expectations have changed. It is now a base expectation for any major company that consideration and investment be made in addressing the social and environmental impact that business creates.
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  7. Only publicly-traded companies need to report on their CSR work
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    This is no longer a disclosure issue, it’s become the price of doing business. Even private firms have a vested stake in articulating their plan for long term resource management, and by degree, profitability. As long as your organization has stakeholders (and all do, though the type may vary), those stakeholders are interested in your ESG performance.
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  8. It isn’t material to investors
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    It’s hard to say which is evolving more rapidly, the culture of investors or the definition of materiality. Each year, additional guidance is published by leading research and ratings organizations arguing for more and more data, once considered immaterial and non-financial, to be considered for it’s impact on all bottom lines: for profit, planet, and people. Investors have noticed and are increasingly encouraged by data from ESG-related portfolios which often beat industry averages for the same performance period.
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  9. There aren’t clear standards
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    one-wayNot only are there clear standards, there is a choice for your organization as to what kind of reporting and standard is right for you. In addition to being rated by research organizations and listed on sustainable indices, there are sector-specific questionnaires that your competition may already be responding to.
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  10. It’s a fad
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    Even with the rise of climate denialism and deregulation within the American system, there is growing consensus in the global business community that investment in CSR brings in untold returns to the bottom line and is a business benefit, in-and-of-itself. It is no fad, it is a new standard for business. There is no going back, shareholders have shifted out of focus, and stakeholders have shifted into the spotlight. The only question remains, who will be left behind?
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