* We host an intervention by Francesca Puggioni, Managing Director Southern Europe of Orange Business Services on the theme of Csr, Corporate social responsibility

While the world gradually settles down to a new normality, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) becomes increasingly important.

Following the recent situation, so unique that it has involved all the inhabited regions on earth, the relationship that binds us to a company has taken on a completely new perspective, and technology has a huge role to play.

We expect responsibility from companies

In these times of uncertainty, honesty, trust and attention to the needs of the community, values of utmost importance have proved to be of great importance and contribute strongly to the value of brands and their reputation. The global emergency has involved and involves everyone, and in the future the companies that have done their part to help will be the ones most remembered and recognized.

Amazon, for example, promised a $5 million relief fund for small businesses located near its headquarters. Orange has allocated an additional €3 million to the Orange Foundation, which supports care and prevention initiatives in the countries where it operates. In the low-touch economy of the future, it will be necessary to do more and more to promote corporate citizenship and its values in business strategies.

Larry Fink, CEO of the global investment management company Blackrock, recently summed up this concept, saying: “The pandemic we are experiencing highlights the fragility of the globalised world and the value of sustainable portfolios. When we get out of this crisis and investors rebalance their portfolios, we will have the opportunity to accelerate towards a more sustainable world.

Businesses must prepare themselves for the inevitable changes that are taking place in our society, ranging from health to the economy, from biodiversity to global warming: to succeed they will have to become more resilient and flexible in their CSR strategies.

According to Harris Poll, nine out of ten respondents said that large companies have the opportunity to “reset” and behave best towards employees, customers, communities and the environment. Technology can play a key role in this reset.

Last year Italian companies invested almost 1.8 billion euros in social responsibility and sustainability initiatives, according to a report by the Socialis Observatory.

Although a contraction of around 16% was estimated for this year, the results of the report show that the crisis has strengthened the commitment to corporate citizenship. Businesses are looking for new sustainability models in which “technology and innovation marry social responsibility,” according to Roberto Orsi, Director of the Social Observatory. This is a trend that I believe we will see all over the world.

How technology can support CSR

IDC believes that companies that commit themselves to protecting sustainability initiatives, encouraging diversity and inclusion in workplaces and making a difference in communities at risk” will be long remembered by customers, employees and ecosystem partners.

Technology can help reduce environmental impact and improve, for example, ethical production and nearshoring (i.e. choosing outsourcing partners in countries in the same region, in contrast to l’offshoring).

Flexibility or work at home promotes environmentally friendly habits: fewer people are moving less; working at home involves fewer disposable items such as plates, cutlery and coffee cups.

In Italy, the vision of the canals of Venice without pollution has made it clear how quickly it can improve the quality of water with the reduction of traffic, and many residents do not want to return to the status quo: we are discussing the establishment of an international climate change centre in IoT and analytics will prove useful to address these and other environmental issues that are at the top of the priorities of cities around the world today.

Digital tickets can help reduce traffic jams, heavy traffic and pollution – as well as restrict physical contact points. Real-time data provides information on trends in behaviour that can help transport companies allocate better resources to encourage people to use public transport, improving the flow of passengers.

The blockchain, a decentralised database that serves as a secure and distributed data log, can support and promote the transparency and visibility of ethical practices in the supply chain. Its integrated ability to track origins and origin gives consumers confidence that products have been purchased or produced ethically. It also provides companies with a strong element of differentiation in the market.

A solid CSR strategy can bring profits

According to the Boston Consulting Group, there is increasing evidence of the link between environmental, social and governance factors and their contribution to the success of a company: an aspect that seems to take even greater prominence after the pandemic. The crisis has put our lives on hold and many are now reconsidering how they shop while looking more closely at the way businesses manage their business.

Finally, therefore, companies will need a Csr strategy with clear objectives and strong values, both to grow the business and to return to the company.

Technology can provide innovative ways to support Csr’s initiatives, as in the case of Google, which analyses weather models to increase renewable energy production.

It can also help companies to make Csr’s programs more targeted, manage workflows and analyze data to identify the best non-profit organisations to work with.

The world has changed, and so has the Csr. In recent months we have seen companies motivated not only by profit but also by social responsibility. The companies will now be much more pervasively controlled: technology will be essential to adapt CSR to the role of primary importance that will be played in the new world in which we will live.

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