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Five business-driven social change trends to watch in 2019

The era of business-driven social change is upon us.

Companies can no longer sit on the sidelines as social change takes over society. They need to be driving it.

With that in mind, here are five trends worth following in 2019.

Greater diversity

A commitment to diversity has now become mainstream.

Which means that, for businesses, the days of being able to pay lip service to diversity are over.

Businesses can’t just get away with supporting diversity. They need to play an active role in making it a reality.

That means:

  • Putting best practices in place for hiring a diverse workforce
  • Creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to succeed
  • Actively eliminating obstacles for all employees to move up in organizations

Zero tolerance for workplace misconduct

Movements like #MeToo have changed the conversation about sexual harassment and assault in society.

That means that the days of workplace misconduct being condoned or ignored in the workplace are behind us.

But zero tolerance is no longer enough.

Companies now need to be active participants in ensuring the workplace is somewhere everyone feels comfortable, empowered and safe.

That means explicit cases of harassment and assault that are no longer acceptable.

Actions that previously might have been thought of as innocuous – such as comments or touching – need to be rooted out.

Employee engagement

Employees need to be active participants in driving social change at your company.

People are too well-informed for businesses to dictate from on high what a company’s values need to be.

Millennials, in particular, want to work for companies that reflect their values and make active contributions to social change.

And given that they will soon make up the majority of the workforce, appealing to them is not going to be an option.

From “corporate social responsibility” to business-driven social change

In the days of the corporate social responsibility trend, managing bigger contributions to society was (relatively) easy. A company could make a donation to a cause or send its employees to volunteer somewhere for a day.

And those were all important valuable contributions that companies will still be expected to make.

But they will no longer be enough. Now, companies will be expected to be active participants in business-driven social change.

That means advocating for the causes a company believes in and actively creating a corporate structure that reflects it.

For example: If a company champions diversity, it needs to ensure that commitment is reflected in its own human resources policies.

Sustainability and environmentalism

People have access to more information than ever before.

Companies can’t expect to get away with feigning a commitment to social change without actually backing it.

Nowhere is this truer than sustainability and environmentalism, where “greenwashing” is now a thing of the past.

Companies need to be willing to back up their verbal commitments to creating a greener world with real, concrete actions.

Mark Brownlee is a digital marketing strategist in Ottawa, Canada.

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