4 Themes from the 2022 Points of Light Conference That Shine a Light on CSR Trends for Business

Jul 20, 2022

Points of Light knows that when the world’s largest companies get it right, the world gets it right, which is a theme at the heart of the 2022 Points of Light Conference. As a part of this year’s conference experience, we welcomed leaders from the corporate citizenship community to our stages and workshop spaces to meet like-minded peers and share insights from the challenging work that faces the business community as leaders in social impact.

Several themes were explored, shining a light on the direction where business needs to lead:

  1. The “to do” list of the business community has become longer. For the business community, it can feel like we are being outpaced by the problems of the world that we seek to solve. In addition to economic and societal responsibilities, global communications firm Edelman shared with Points of Light’s Corporate Service Council that almost six out of 10 people in the U.S. believe it is a responsibility of business to take action on the world stage, engaging in geopolitical issues such as the war in Ukraine. Navigating how to respond to or engage in these issues has introduced new and unique challenges for corporate citizenship professionals.
  2. Our brains are wired for stories. As companies seek to capture the measurable impact of their efforts, they should leverage the power of stories. Disney Institute shared with conference attendees that stories are one of the strongest forms of communication, evoking a sense of connectedness in those who hear them. At Points of Light, we say that “Data + Stories = Proof.” The relentless pursuit of data must be coupled with an equal desire to share more about the people and places at the heart of that data. Additionally, leaders within companies must be equipped to tell these stories, communicating the company’s and their own passions and values through the story.
  3. Volunteer engagement must adapt to the hybrid world. As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to grapple with variant surges, return-to-office starts and stops and disruptions to in-person events. It has become clear that the current hybrid work environment will not be a temporary condition of the pandemic, but a lasting model of collaboration that must extend to deepen employee engagement. In one workshop, Common Impact shared how companies can look to skills-based volunteering as a partial or fully virtual strategy to deliver on employee engagement goals.
  4. There is a CSR and ESG identity crisis. The corporate citizenship community is caught between two acronyms. Several workshops sought to answer the question: What is the difference between CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)? The role of business in society has been discussed and expanded upon over 50 years. The growing influence of ESG is rooted in CSR, which marked the starting point of businesses taking ownership of their impact on society. Without CSR, there would be no ESG, but the two are far from interchangeable. CSR helps companies give context to their corporate responsibility strategy and culture, while ESG is the action and measurable outcomes of that agenda.

Whether or not you joined us this year at the 2022 Points of Light Conference, we invite you to continue learning with us year-round by accessing our body of civic engagement research. These studies shed light on global trends that are central to maximizing the impact of corporate social responsibility. We look forward to the 2023 Points of Light Conference in Chicago on June 14-16. Sign up to receive updates and be a part of global change.

Christine Schoppe