By Shannon Schuyler, PwC
2014 was a landmark year. Megatrends like demographic shifts, technological breakthroughs and rapid urbanization collided with milestone events -- such as India’s 2 percent give-back mandate and the People’s Climate March -- to re-shape how the world views businesses’ responsibility in the marketplace.
I recently participated in a Twitter chat, on behalf of PwC and the PwC Charitable Foundation, with TriplePundit and Dave Stangis of the Campbell Soup Co. During the chat, we touched on these issues and how they will impact the way we think and act as responsible business organizations in 2015. While there were many important insights and trends, there are seven that I believe will transform the landscape in 2015.
This Year: Expect the adoption of more sophisticated employee engagement strategies with a focus on personalization and mobilization. Companies will look to help employees define purpose across a variety of different levels. We are also likely to see deeper engagement strategies via pro bono and skills-based volunteering, as well as companies embracing digital innovation to drive scale.
This Year: Expect investment in youth education to continue to comprise a large portion of company giving strategies. Technology, digital tools and game-based learning are the wave of the future. These new teaching tactics can help to transform, revamp and retool the way students and educators approach learning, especially within challenging subjects like math and science, where U.S. youth typically lag behind those from other parts of the world. As budget issues continue to plague school districts in communities across the country, expect to see business play an increased role in investing in quality education programs.
This Year: We’ll see more companies looking to address diversity in a variety of forms. From a talent perspective, CEOs want to hire employees who bring more to the table than ever before. In fact, according to PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO survey, 85 percent of CEOs said they are actively searching for talent in different geographies, industries or demographic segments, and 80 percent are looking for a broader range of skills than they did in the past. Today’s business environment requires innovative thinking and the ability to examine issues from a range of perspectives. Companies want boards that are better suited to address evolving and increasingly complex business, regulatory and political environments.
This Year: Expect to see an uptick in new organizations, tools and applications – such as innovative digital mapping tools to ease the targeting and sharing of resources – that enhance the value of the sharing economy. The challenge now is how to support the development and maturity of these creative companies and industries to bring them to scale. Those in the digital and social purpose worlds should be able to complement them.
This Year: Investors can expect to see increased collaboration at the supply chain level, leading the way for more sustainable sourcing. Industry leaders play an important role in setting the supply chain goals, such as greenhouse gas reduction targets and sustainable sourcing, that consumers and businesses want to see – creating a competitive marketplace advantage. Other supply chain risks – climate change, human rights violations and the use of controversial raw materials – may also come into play, as investors increase pressure to address potential supply chain risks.
This Year: Expect to see a rise in local government action to address the challenges posed by climate change. On the federal level, the new GOP leadership in Congress has pledged to thoroughly review proposed clean energy regulations, including the adoption and implementation of the EPA Clean Power Plan for power plants. On a global level, expect to see a crescendo of business engagement leading up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year, which is seen as a critical opportunity to achieve a binding global agreement on climate. Further, U.N. member states are working with the business community to advance a series of sustainable development goals to grow economic, social and environmental advancement.
This Year: Financial reporting can be resource intensive for issuing companies and of suboptimal value to investors. Expect to see a newfound openness to revised standards and frameworks for reporting, such as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Guiding Principles.
Bottom Line: I’ve been closely following these seven CR trends throughout 2014, and believe these issues are prime for increased movement in 2015. What did I miss? What are your predictions? What’s next? Share your thoughts with me @shannonschuyler #pwcCR2015.
Image credit: Flickr/keiya
Shannon Schuyler is the corporate responsibility leader for PwC and the president of PwC’s Charitable Foundation, Inc.