Corporate citizenship has continued its evolution from corporate social responsibility (CSR) through philanthropy and check writing to creating shared value and win-win models. Today, CSR efforts have a more holistic focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, engaging all stakeholders and embedding these areas into all aspects of the organization.

As employees increasingly look for meaning and impact in their jobs, companies are exploring ways to link purpose-driven work for both employee engagement and competitive advantage. It’s now considered table stakes for companies to highlight general corporate citizenship practices, such as employee volunteering or community investment. Employees, customers and other stakeholders often expect more.

In fact, an Agility PR Solutions survey found that 92% of consumers wanted companies to fully incorporate socially responsible practices — such as protecting the elderly, eradicating diseases and increasing access to quality education — into their business identity. Even back in 2015, Cone Communications found that "91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues."

And companies are making the shift. In 2019, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) revealed that 93% of the world’s largest companies by revenue already report on their ESG performance. It probably doesn’t hurt that ESG principles also provide a guide for socially responsible investors and potentially higher returns. Further, as Bloomberg noted in late 2020, the ESG movement is now "too big to ignore."

Yet, we often hear more about environmental and sustainability practices versus the “S” in ESG, which represents the social or society component, focused primarily on employees and communities.

Read the full article about putting the "s" in ESG by Thomas Bognanno at Forbes.