I. How companies engage on social issues

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Executive Summary

  • There is a long and evolving history of corporate engagement on social issues.
  • Efforts to formalize, resource, and communicate about these efforts have coalesced into prevailing frameworks like CSR, ESG, DEI, and Business and Human Rights that have similar but distinct processes and objectives for business and social impact.
  • The Center for Business & Social Justice (CBSJ) has identified six overarching forms of corporate engagement that can drive negative, neutral, and/or positive social impact.
  • While many companies have integrated efforts on social issues into their strategies, approaches are largely voluntary, vary widely between and within companies, and tend to treat positive and equitable social outcomes as a “nice to have," rather than a business imperative.

Businesses aiming to promote social justice through corporate operations must understand the key concepts of social engagement. They must also identify which engagement strategy will help them reach their business and social objectives.

CBSJ has created a 18-page, downloadable PDF that offers a high-level overview of how companies currently engage on social issues, discusses six forms of corporate social engagement, and provides links to existing tools and resources that are currently leveraged by corporate leaders in their social impact initiatives.

Key Questions Answered in This Document

  • How are key concepts of social issue engagement defined?
  • What frameworks already exist for corporate social issue engagement?
  • What are common forms of corporate engagement on social issues?
  • How do these frameworks and forms of engagement factor into corporate strategy and shape the landscape for action?

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