CSR 2010: 2010 was CSR's "Coming Out" Party; What will 2011 bring?

CSR 2010: 2010 was CSR's "Coming Out" Party; What will 2011 bring?

As we've seen by many recent year-end posts, 2010 really culminated in a "coming out" party for corporate social responsibility professionals. The industry has indeed gone mainstream, and the sustainability function of businesses is no longer stored in a back hallway, only coming out once per year to express green initiatives and explain the company's carbon footprint to investors.

Sustainability and corporate responsibility have moved to the front page and marketing dollars are now covering more initiatives than the obligatory cause marketing programs. During 2010, we saw major programs unveiled by Marks & Spencer, Target, GE, Timberland, Wal-Mart and P&G. These programs were created with the company's DNA at their centers. Further, a global study by Echo Research, titled, "A World in Trust," that analyzed CSR trends and interviewed business leaders concluded that organizations must make sustainability a top business imperative.

Cross-sector progress on Sustainability

The Global Reporting Index (GRI) and Center for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE) each established beachheads in the U.S. and a study by PWC reported that sustainability reporting is on the rise.

Annual CSR reports increasingly used multimedia to showcase initiatives and advancements. We also saw the CSR community participate and share opinions in the debates over the BP Oil Spill and Toyota's mismanagement of their braking systems.

Also of note, we witnessed more and more corporations developing NGO enmanagemenetttgagement strategies that established sustainable philanthropic programs that go far beyond traditional major gift donations.

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Aman Singh Das is the Corporate Responsibility Editor at Vault.com. She is a New York University alum and previously wrote for The Wall Street Journal. Her area of work includes corporate diversity practices and sustainability, and how they translate into recruitment and strategic development at Fortune 1000 companies.