Following up on CSRwire's 2009 CSR Year in Review: Corporate Social Responsibility Solidifies Into a Movement, Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer something companies are using to separate themselves from the crowd. It's something they must now do to just keep up with the crowd. It's no longer a marketing ploy, a public relations stunt, or a distraction from a company blunder. It is in fact a movement, a radical change in mindset that is slowly integrating itself into all parts of the corporate sphere. Some companies are lagging, some are blazing new trails, but overall the trend continues- Businesses just have to be better.
David Morrison, the president of Twentysomething Inc., a consulting and research firm based in Philadelphia that focuses on the Gen Y demographic, noted in an interview "It’s important to remember that these are the offspring of the ‘Me Generation.’ Generation Y grew up in an ‘everybody wins’ environment where teamwork was integral. They’ve been highly empowered since the day they could crawl and expect the world to yield to their preferences....... As a result, today’s Gen Y workers seek to balance work and life, want to express their desire to give back, and place high importance on feeling good about the choices they make, particularly in an employer. Human Resource departments are rushing to respond, in part because corporate social responsibility initiatives lay the groundwork for a company to participate in its community, and partly because the competition for Gen Y talent is growing fierce"
Here are some quick stats collected from a 2006 joint survey conduced by Cone Inc. and AMP Insights:
- 61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world, suggests a survey of 1,800 young people to be released today. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company's social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study suggests these millennials are "the most socially conscious consumers to date."
- Volunteerism by college students increased by 20% from 2002 to 2005, says a study released last week by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service.
- Of the 28% of ages 13 to 25 who are employed full time, 79% surveyed said they want to work for a company that cares about how it affects or contributes to society.
Kellie A. McElhaney, the Founding Director of the Center for Responsible Business at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand stated that:
- 79% of Millennials want to work for a company heavily engaged in CSR
- 56% will refuse to work for a company that is not at all committed to and engaged in CSR.
- Over 80% will switch brands if they have no CSR initiatives.
The CSR movement began as an external force and has been building over the years. The driving force behind the growth in the CSR movement has been the roughly 80 million Americans in Generation Y-those born between 1980 and 2000. The purchasing power of this group is estimated at around $200 Billion and growing, as more Millennials enter the work force and work their way up to higher paying jobs. Young Gen Y consumers demanded that companies do more than make a profit- that they should make a difference too- and slowly, companies began to respond. We can see now that the most recent Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns are clearly targeted at Millennials, using social media and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube as thier platforms (Target's Bullseye Gives Campaign, Chase Community Giving, Pepsi's Refresh Project).
What started as an external pull from consumers for more CSR, is now transitioning towards an internal push. In late 2007, Net Impact, an international network of current and emerging leaders dedicated to CSR, conducted a survey of over 2400 undergraduate students representing over 50 colleges and universities in Canada and the US to better understand their opinions on business' relationship with society. While 87% of students said that business leaders should factor environmental and social effects into their business decisions, nearly half believed that such an approach could be profitable. Over 73% responded that they will seek socially responsible employment during the course of their careers and over half stated that they are likely to discuss their interest in CSR with a potential for-profit employer.
As Millennials choose their first, second, or third companies to work for, they look for more than just the big names and big bucks. They look closely at a company’s CSR programs, community volunteering programs, and overall business models. The company they work for will become an extension of their identity- something Millennials don't take lightly. Free lunches and casual Fridays are nice perks too... but these alone just won’t cut it anymore. They paved the consumer path to more responsible purchasing, and now they are demanding companies either step up on CSR or risk missing out on todays top young and creative talent.