Corporations in Northeast Ohio have been practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for decades…but it is only the last decade that “social responsibility” and “sustainability” have been so prominent in the corporate lexicon.

A SustainableBrands / Shelton Corp. 2018 survey highlighted what an important role CSR plays in the economy, showing that 88% of Americans believe the average person should be taking concrete steps to reduce environmental impact through their purchases. Consumer loyalty for sustainable brands is at an all-time high, and the American economy is favoring responsible, sustainable brands. Corporations are taking notice of the growth of profitability of those in the CSR space.

The new reporting structure that the world’s corporations are beginning to embrace is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were ratified in 2015, and consist of 17 key determinants – everything from eliminating poverty, to promoting social justice, to climate change. As a reporting structure, corporations have the opportunity to self-assess and show how they might change their behavior for the common good.

Connecting businesses with nonprofits is at the crux of BVU’s work, and these CSR trends reflect the rising engagement by corporations and their people. While it’s enriching for the employee, it’s great for the corporation, too. Korngold Consulting’s – Better World Leadership Study reported that 74% of employees who were introduced to a nonprofit through their employers had a better impression of their company. Gallup’s employee engagement assessment indicated community service as a key method of creating an engaged workforce, and found that companies with engaged workforces were 22% more profitable than those without engaged workforces.

CSR is a key component to successful recruitment, especially among Millennials. Glassdoor found that 75% of applicants aged 18-34 expected their employers to take a stand on social issues and have a community engagement program. BVU’s 2018 Volunteerism in the Workplace study found that 61% of individuals are more likely to do business with an employer when they support employee volunteerism. Perhaps one of the most telling statistics is that 92% of employees agree that volunteer opportunities play a role in broader professional skill sets and career paths, according to Deloitte’s Volunteer IMPACT reports. Clearly, there is rationale for a formalized approach to community engagement, and that is exactly what the SDGs and the efforts of BVU provide.

More than a decade ago, a bombshell Forbes article asked the question: “Can corporations save the world?” As we have seen over the past 13 years, it is corporations – and the people who steer them – that can buttress government services, create worthwhile livelihoods for millions, and provide the platform upon which to fight social ills. While there will always be some corporations who place profit ahead of people, the vast majority of companies – particularly those introspective enough to answer and publish a SDG-validated report – want to prosper by doing good in the world. Doing well and doing good are no longer mutually exclusive outcomes.

Engaging businesses and nonprofits to work together to strengthen the community is BVU’s mission, and we are proud to introduce the UN SDGs to the Northeast Ohio business community. We are all a vital part of the connective tissue of the economy. We hope you will join us on April 9th at our Business Summit to learn more about the UN SDGs, and steps your company can take to achieve them, no matter how big or small.

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