When Foodbank came into being in 1992, the overriding aim was to ensure that good food didn’t go to waste. Since then, the food and grocery industry has evolved and matured so that now it has a much broader agenda when it comes to social responsibility. Foodbank aims to grow alongside the companies to ensure we continue to be a valuable partner providing a capable conduit for good works.
The Global Foodbank Network’s (GFN) Lisa Moon, CEO, and Craig Nemitz, Director of Field Services, recently visited Australia as part of an Asia Pacific tour and Foodbank Australia took the opportunity to pick their brains on the latest Corporate Social Responsibility trends globally.
By way of background, the GFN is ten years old and based in Chicago. It works in more than 32 countries helping to establish, strengthen and connect foodbanks and also facilitate relationships with corporates wishing to engage with food banking internationally.
According to the Craig Nemitz, as CSR continues to advance, each year brings new and unique voices to the table, vibrant innovations and more widespread, integrated adoption amongst the world’s most powerful companies as well as small and mid-size enterprises. Here are the top global trends in Corporate Social Responsibility:
Not just a cherry on the top
Pivotal events, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, have moved integrating sustainability into business models from a ‘good thing to do’ to a legal obligation and has increased demand from stakeholders for transparency and action.
Integration not just add on
Smart companies are responding to the changing world and the changing consumers by putting CSR, or Responsible Business Practice, at the heart of their business planning. CSR is becoming a strategic necessity rather than something that is perceived as soft and fluffy. CSR partners need to be able to step up to the plate and help deliver on share value over time. Companies are demanding a higher level of servicing from their charity partners – they want collaborators that truly understand their need and work alongside them to achieve their objectives.
Transparency isn’t a nice to have, it’s essential
Transparency has become an expectation of companies today. A wave of scandal and unethical behaviour has led to widespread mistrust of corporates. Millennials in particular expect the companies they purchase from to operate sustainably, ethically and openly. There is scepticism towards a company’s intentions, even when they aim to do the right thing! The solution is
By the people for the people
A company’s good deeds are no longer at the whim of the CEO. The catchcry is ‘employee engagement’ and the decisions about what a company should be doing is increasingly being put in the hands of the staff. Whether it’s deciding where philanthropic funds should go or ensuring operational sustainability goals are met, it’s the employees who are in the driving seat. They also want hands on involvement which means charities need to be able to provide authentic skilled and unskilled volunteering opportunities.
Social justice no longer considered off limits
Whether it’s gay rights or food insecurity, mainstream brands are increasingly taking a stance on social justice issues. Government has turned a blind eye to hunger in industrialised/developed countries but the Internet and mobile technology are making everything more visible and hunger is being uncovered. This is making it increasingly harder for governments to say there isn’t a problem. Economics is what evolves social issues and, therefore, businesses are the ones who can truly drive change.
Collaboration is the key
Most companies understand that a collaborative approach across departments is necessary for CSR success. The smartest companies also know that collaboration outside of the organisation is critical. Companies including Unilever, Nike, General Motors and IKEA have joined together against climate change under the ‘We Mean Business’ coalition. Also major brands such as Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Target and many others are collaborating to address inequality through the ‘100,000 Opportunities Initiative’, a coalition of employers committed to hiring young Americans who are out of school and not currently working. In Australia too, companies are collaborating to help address hunger. Foodbank has all its milk needs met (over 1 million litres a year) thanks to a collaboration of all the major dairy companies and the Collaborative Supply Program, which sees the manufacturing of around 4 million kilos of key staples foods every year, is only possible through the teamwork of primary producers, ingredient suppliers, manufacturers, packaging producers and transporters.
Real impact is the ultimate aim
Companies and their employees want to go beyond just being seen to do the right thing. Through integration, commitment, collaboration and energy they want to actually change the world!