What We Loved in 2011: Top Headlines and Happenings of the Past Year

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2011 was a rollercoaster year in many respects, and the field of corporate citizenship was no different.  While thousands are protesting big business through the Occupy movement, individual companies -- through partnerships and leadership -- are part of some impressive societal strides. Below are six corporate citizenship headlines and happenings we found highly engaging this past year:

1. Japan Disaster Relief Efforts. The entire world watched in March when Japan was hit with one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history.  What happened next would help shape the future of how companies approach disaster response. Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami, there was an outpouring of support and services by companies around the world. Months later, at the 2011 APEC Summit, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue, and USAID announced the launch of the Pacific Rim Coordination Center (www.data.pacificrimnetwork.org) to better serve the region in the event of a natural disaster.

2. Strategic Philanthropy. The concept of strategic philanthropy isn’t new, but this year’s report by Deloitte brought in back into the limelight.  In June, the company released “More Than Just Giving,” which spotlighted the issue that more time should be spent on discerning the rationale behind why companies give.

3. Focus on Impact. “Impact” was certainly one of the buzz words of 2011 and the concept of measuring a CSR program's impact was one of the central topics. We saw the beginning of a paradigm shift, moving the focus from “what was done” to “why it mattered.” Two of our favorite blogs covered the issue (Realized Worth and Tactical Philanthropy) and Chris Jarvis at Realized Worth summarized it well when discussing Microsoft’s CSR program:

“Microsoft accomplished a great feat by giving $96 million - but that’s not what matters. What matters is that they’re changing the world by changing their people, one by one.”

4. The Rise in Reporting. In November, KMPG released the study “KPMG International Corporate Responsibility Reporting Survey 2011," providing statistics for what many of us already knew: CSR is essential for businesses in today’s society. Explaining one of the key findings, the researchers state that "companies are increasingly realizing that CR reporting is about more than just being a good corporate citizen; it drives innovation and promotes learning, which help companies grow their business and increase their organization’s value."

[Editor's note: N100 = world's 100 largest companies by revenue; G250 = Global Fortune 250]

5. Investing in Women and Girls. This past November, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave a speech at the Opening Session of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness announcing the Obama Administration’s shift from “aid to investment.”  One of the key tenets of her speech highlighted the importance of development investments in women and girls.

“If we didn't know before, certainly a growing body of research should convince us that nations which invest in women's employment, health, and education tend to have more economic growth; farmers are more productive, children healthier and better educated. So for our part, the United States is putting women at the center of our development efforts, and we are collecting data to make sure we're having the impact we want.”

The Secretary's speech reinforced what we’ve been seeing companies do throughout 2011. Businesses are using their CSR initiatives to empower women and girls throughout the world.

6. The Concept Shared Value.  Of course we would be remiss if we didn't include the article that kicked off a year of CSR chatter -- Michael Porter and Mark Kramer’s piece in the Harvard Business Review, “Creating Shared Value,” created quite a bit of buzz when it was published in January 2011 (our blog covered it here). The concept that companies can create goods and services that are good for their profits and for people and the planet, received praise (Fast Company, Forbes) and criticism (The Guardian Sustainable Business) across the internet. The shared value concept went on to shape many discussions, events and articles throughout the year.

There were many more articles and news items from this year that we could of covered as well. What did you think was the top CSR news story from 2011? Did we miss something important? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 01:41

Is strategic philanthropy and shared value enough? No. I applaud the increase in philanthropic and CSR activities from corporations this year, but in reality it's old news and it didn't really change anything BIG.

The real stride was through social innovation. Global leaders realized that they could differentiate themselves not by giving away money, but by making it while solving social problems. Walmart in healthcare, Coca-Cola in bottling sustainability... these companies should be applauded for actually moving the needle with the core of their business.

Solving problems by giving money away isn't a sustainable solution or a major stride in the right direction. Using the market to solve problems is.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 01:41

It is great to see more companies incorporating community interests into their business strategies. The ability of business to improve the human condition is why the word "sustainability" has become more than a buzz word. Instead, sustainability - environmental AND economic - is at the forefront for many companies. Let's hope this trend grows in 2012.