The social responsibility of business
Call to action for Corporate Australia

The recently released 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report shows a seismic shift in the expectations consumers and employees in Australia have when it comes to the social responsibility of business.

The global survey of more than 11,000 businesses showed young people are driving this change, with millennials keen to see companies they work for and buy from making meaningful moves to support society. With 86% of millennials thinking that business success should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance, there’s clearly a search for social purpose emerging in business in Australia.

Gone are the days of companies making donations from a distance to show good will to causes. The focus is on the details of doing and being good, rather than just being seen to support good. Organisations are being asked what they stand for, how they respond to crises unfolding around them and whether they can use their resource to tackle the issues which matter in society.

The power of the people has always been important but recent times have seen increased pressure in terms of the social responsibility of businesses. South Australia’s “Punters Tax” was introduced last year stating that 15% of South Australians’ losses will be payable in tax by online betting agencies, in part to assist with gambling addiction. At a national level, the corporate response to the marriage equality vote was watched carefully. Consumers and employees are increasingly looking at the way businesses behave as a driver for alienation or allegiance.

The nature of business itself is shifting too. Deloitte’s report shows many more companies transforming from businesses into social enterprises; making CSR a core part of their business plan and operations, rather than a bolt on.

As an integrated brand storytelling agency, Filtered Media has worked with businesses big and small in Australia for more than ten years. We’ve seen businesses begin to take social responsibility seriously, grappling with their social mission and impact.

We are seeing a trend of companies coming to us with meaningfully good news to tell their stakeholders, and the world at large. Which is why it felt like the perfect time to announce our Social Enterprise practice at Filtered Media, dedicated to telling the stories of causes, corporate foundations, not-for-profits and government agencies with a social purpose. The practice will be taking the knowledge and expertise we share with businesses every day and applying it to help change-maker organisations that have a social purpose tell their story, brilliantly.

Coca Cola Journey’s work with the Beacon Foundation is just one example of a big business we’ve worked with that has opened its eyes to issues they can help meaningfully tackle. Partnering with the Beacon Foundation, they have connected their workforce to young women in Australia in an online mentoring program called MyRoad to improve employment outcomes for disadvantaged individuals.

Despite the positive examples that exist, only 23% of Australian respondents in Deloitte’s report said social responsibility was a top priority reflected in their corporate strategy. More than half (53%) said it is not a focus for them. Is social responsibility of business really the priority it should be?

In the past, the top 10 Australian business leaders in CSR were heralded as being the ABC, professional services firms ARUP, GHD and PwC, miners Newmont Mining Corporation and Rio Tinto, The University of Queensland, Melbourne Water, National Australia Bank and Main Roads Western Australia. As times change and it becomes less about giving back to society and more about getting involved with society, we’re ready to partner with change-makers ready to pioneer a new way of purposeful leadership in Australia. Are you one of them?

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