A new report issued by the CECP shows that leading companies are continuing to bolster their corporate social investments and adapt their business strategies to put purpose front of mind.

The group’s latest research, Investing in Society, draws on the CECP’s annual Giving in Numbers Survey, insight from more than 200 of the world’s largest companies and conversations with leading experts and on-the-ground practitioners. The report shows what actions companies are taking to identify and effectively meet stakeholder needs while also standing firm in their social commitments, even in light of the uncertain sociopolitical environment seen around the world today.

Some key trends identified in the report include:

  • Letting purpose drive results. According to the report, leading companies recognize that aligning with a social purpose is critical to energizing and reaching stakeholders, for more resilient markets and society. Companies that have tapped into purpose as an inspiration for their workforce are seeing the rewards, the CECP said, with 58 percent of companies with a clearly articulated and widely understood purpose seeing financial growth of more than 10 percent, and 85 percent of them reporting increased revenue between 2013 and 2016.
  • Focusing more on the long term. Top CEOs are taking a more balanced approach when it comes to strategy, putting greater emphasis on long-term sustainability instead of letting the immediate short-term goals of quarterly returns lead business decisions. According to the CECP, research increasingly shows that the focus on short-term performance can adversely affect a company’s ability to generate sustained value over the long term. Companies taking the long view—in terms of environmental and social performance as well as business/financial performance—are seeing financial results that back it up as a viable approach, the group said.
  • Enhancing employee engagement. Leading companies are refining and focusing their workplaces to create shared value for their employees, based on each employee’s skills and passions and how they fit in with the businesses’ needs. This translates into a more diverse set of volunteer programs or volunteer programs that are increasingly flexible to diverse employee passions, the CECP said. The organization’s data shows that corporate programs that allowed some level of work flexibility when engaging in volunteer opportunities were the most-offered programs in 2016: Some 61 percent of companies offered paid-time release and 60 percent offered flexible scheduling, a 5 percent increase since 2014.
  • Leveraging more assets. Companies are drawing from an increasingly diverse array of tools and resources to advance their social goals, the CECP said. Corporate societal investments have become more deeply integrated with core business strategies, and implemented by more business units, because a strong business case can be made for such investments.
  • Using advocacy as strategy. The data show that businesses are committed to their corporate societal investments, and continue to use their brands to advocate for social issues, the CECP said. As the 2017 Giving in Numbers Survey showed, the median total giving increased in 2016. Further, some 61 percent of companies report they are sticking to their public advocacy strategy, and more than 20 percent are advancing their strategy in response to public reaction to corporate leaders’ stance on social issues.

According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, about three-quarters of the general population believe companies can take actions to improve economic and social conditions in their communities. Investing in Society’s findings show that companies are up to meeting those expectations, the group said.

“CECP’s view is that the world’s leading corporations have emerged as a steadying presence and remain uniquely qualified to continue to drive progress, in spite of unpredictable global circumstances,” said Daryl Brewster, the group’s CEO.

To read the report in full, go to http://cecp.co.