In order to understand what is happening in institutional social responsibility today and how it is likely to evolve in the near future, PNC’s Institutional Asset Management®(IAM) group commissioned a study with C-suite and financial executives in large for-profit and nonprofit organizations.*

This research suggests that internal and external pressures are playing a central role in the social responsibility movement, and we don’t expect that pressure to lessen anytime soon. Organizations are being asked to expand their missions and look beyond their balance sheets in how they measure success, and nonprofits and for-profit companies are listening.

The rapid rise in social responsibility programs is a game changer. Nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike express a commitment to their social responsibility goals, as well as confidence that they can make a difference on large-scale issues like climate change and workplace diversity through their social responsibility programs and environmental, social and governance investing (ESG).

  Social Responsibility Is A High Priority For Organizations

  92% Nearly all executives surveyed (92%) say that social responsibility is a priority for their organization.

  The Environment and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Are the Greatest Priorities for Companies and Nonprofits

When it comes to specific social responsibility initiatives, organizational priorities run the gamut — from reducing their environmental impact to improving employee wages and benefits, to promoting racial justice.

  • Social responsibility programs today prioritize the environment and DEI initiatives. 
  • Sustainability programs are widespread. Nearly three in four organizations (73%) currently have an environmental sustainability program. 
  • DEI programs are nearly as prevalent, with 68% of organizations saying that they have one.

  Organizations Are Committed to Sustainability

  • Organizations are holding themselves accountable in their sustainability programs.
  • Among those who have an environmental sustainability program, the majority (71%) say that they have target metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) so they can track their progress.
  • And, seven in 10 (72%) are very confident that they will meet their sustainability goals.

  DEI Programs Have Proliferated in Recent Years

  • Most DEI programs are new, with two-thirds (68%) of those with a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative saying that they launched it in the past 3 years. 
  • As they are with sustainability, organizations are also holding themselves accountable on diversity, equity and inclusion. 
  • Among those with a DEI program, the majority say that they have target metrics or KPIs so they can track their progress. 
  • And, seven in 10 (72%) are very confident that they will meet their DEI goals.

  Organizations Also Demonstrate Commitment to Their Employees

  • The vast majority offer employee retirement plans and contribute to those plans.
    • 99% are committed to helping employees save for retirement
    • 90% offer employee retirement plans 
    • 86% make contributions to their employee retirement plans
  • Slightly over half of nonprofits (52%) and six in 10 for-profits (62%) also offer financial education to their employees. 

  ESG Investing Is Also on the Rise

  • Along with a rise in social responsibility, this study also finds a growing interest in ESG investing — investing with a lens toward environmental, social and governance factors. 
  • Four in ten executives (40%) say that their company or organization currently does at least some investing with an ESG lens, and nearly as many (39%) aren’t currently doing ESG investing but are in the planning process.
  • These executives view ESG investing as supporting and reinforcing their corporate values and social responsibility efforts. They believe that ESG investing can make a difference and have a positive impact on society. 
    • 91% agree that “the growth in ESG investing can have a positive influence on corporate behavior”
    • 91% believe that they can make a real impact through their social responsibility programs
    • 94% say that social responsibility programs are here to stay

Overall, these executives believe they can make a difference on issues like climate change and diversity through their social responsibility programs, and nearly all expect a continued emphasis on social responsibility in their organizations specifically and in the country in general.

Social responsibility is a top priority for many nonprofit and corporate organizations. For details Watch Now: Emerging Trends in Social Responsibility (2 minute watch).

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