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Companies are increasingly expected to demonstrate a commitment to making the world a better place through serving local communities, looking after their people and working towards sustainability.

The far-reaching effects of the pandemic have raised the bar for corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. People are increasingly looking for support, transparency and authenticity from companies, and employees are demanding a stronger voice when it comes to corporate decision-making. 

The importance of CSR cannot be understated. A 2020 report in Forbes found that 42% of people’s perceptions of a company are based on CSR activities. And, according to Gartner, “employees and prospective candidates will judge organisations by the way in which they treated employees during the pandemic.” 

Here, we share the top CSR priorities for organisations hoping to make a positive impact in 2021.

Playing a part in the economic recovery

Whilst the full economic impact of the pandemic is still to be seen, unemployment levels will continue to rise as further downsizing takes place, with redundancy an inevitable consequence. There has been an increased demand for Omni’s Talent Transition services in recent months as employers endeavour to support employees during this profoundly difficult time, providing outplacement support to those affected, helping them to take the next step. 

The success of Government programmes introduced to address unemployment challenges will be dependent on employer engagement. Job initiatives, such as the government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, will need employers to work with community providers if it is to achieve its ambition of more than 250,000 high-quality jobs for young people by the end of the year. 

As application volumes increase, employers should also look carefully at how they support unsuccessful applicants. Omni’s Career Hub, which contains resources for users to access specialist careers advice and tailored job opportunities, is being utilised by a number of organisations, including the Co-op, to help unsuccessful job applicants improve their chances of landing the next role they apply for.

Carbon-neutrality

There are several green factors that today’s businesses need to consider. One of the most popular sees organisations pledging a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality through reducing and avoiding generating CO2 emissions. It can be done in various ways, including investing in renewable energy, increasing recycling efforts and purchasing carbon offsetting. 

Carbon-neutrality has become a common element of CSR initiatives because it can be measured with certificates awarded to carbon-neutral companies. Such certificates cannot be faked, so if a company earns one, they can confidently communicate their green credentials to customers and employees.

A large-scale example is Microsoft’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030 and, taking it a step further, removing all of the carbon the company has ever emitted since its founding in 1975, by 2050. 

Supporting small businesses

Everyone is hyper-aware of the devastating impact the pandemic has had on small businesses worldwide. A March 2020 PNAS survey of 5,800 small business owners found that only 47% of respondents believed they would still be in business by 2021. 

On a local level, small, independent businesses are essential pillars in a community, and people are looking to larger, more profitable organisations to offer them a lifeline. While not everyone is in the position to create a $5 million Neighborhood Small Relief Fund like Amazon, they can still make a difference. This could mean reviewing the supply chain to make sure it includes small, local businesses, providing them with access to facilities and technology, offering free mentoring services, or providing a platform to promote their services. An example of the latter is FedEx’s “Big Days of Small” two-day shopping event, which showcased small businesses and offered one-time-only deals during the height of the pandemic last summer.

CSR is under the microscope. Leaders need to question how every initiative will positively impact workers, customers, the planet, and, finally, the business. However, such work has never been more needed and appreciated than in 2021.

The ultimate health check for your business 

Omni’s Resourcing Effectiveness Assessment is the ultimate health check for your organisation’s talent acquisition strategy and employer brand. Take our online REA assessment to identify your current strengths and development areas and receive a report on how you can improve in 2021. Complete Omni’s Resourcing Effectiveness Assessment now.