Several weeks ago I started the online poll asking the question what in your view the biggest trend in CSR this year (2011) is so far was. This is the link to the poll post and results.

Today’s post is taking a closer look at the top 5 and what this ranking of CSR / Sustainability topics and trends can possibly tell us. Here are the top 5 trends identified by 82 different voters from across the globe:


Top Trend: Social Media (20 votes)

I guess this comes a no surprise that Social Media is the top answer when you consider that the distribution of the poll mainly used Social Media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But this is nevertheless a clear sign that Social Media continues to be the trend in 2011 in terms of CSR and Sustainability best practice.


Supply Chain is keeping everyone on their toes (14 votes)

This was a surprise for me to be honest. I did expect the topic to be a top 5 topic but not really at number 2. Possible reasons for this top placement in my view are that Supply Chain topics never really go away for a business no matter how much work they do or how well they are performing. The relationship with your suppliers (especially in the manufacturing) is usually changing each month at least and each organisation needs to stay on top of these developments. That is why best practice trends are always something organisations involved in making CSR / Sustainability work are looking for.


Stakeholder Engagement is changing (13 votes)

This is something I expected. This “Evergreen” is always very popular when we talk about CSR / Sustainability trends. The issue I have is that the term stakeholder engagement can mean so many different things in terms of CSR / Sustainability. The emergence of Social Media has proven to be a deciding factor for successful stakeholder engagement in my view. Stakeholder engagement means a lot more then just engaging stakeholders using Social Media but the increasing importance of Social Media will be an interesting differentiation for the continuous overall adoption of stakeholder engagement best practice across businesses globally.


GRI gets the recognition it deserves (10 votes)

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) being named one of the top 5 trends in 2011 was another positive surprise. The GRI has always been a important player in the CSR / Sustainability field but it seems that it focus on integrated reporting and the way it uses Social Media these days is something people in the field recognise and appreciate during 2011.


CSR /Sustainability Reporting and ISO 26000 round up the top 5 (6 votes each)

The fifth spot on with 6 votes each was a tie between CSR / Sustainability Reporting and the ISO 26000. Both of them are closely related and for me the most interesting aspect of this tie was that they are both about making sense of the way you report your CSR / Sustainability strategy and best practice as a business.



Social Media, Supply Chain and the different aspects of CSR / Sustainability reporting are prevalent when you take this snapshot poll about the latest trends in 2011. Next to the communication aspect of CSR / Sustainability practices and activities, the guidance of institutions such as the GRI are very important to the people which voted.
This leads me to conclude that organisations and other institutions are slowly opening up in terms of communication but guidance on an array of CSR / Sustainability standardisation aspects (reporting, ISO 26000 and GRI) are also something CSR / Sustainability professionals are looking for in 2011.


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  1. I'm not surprised on supply chain coming 2nd – I'd put it first myself. Let's look at some big recent CSR issues:

    Apple/Foxconn – Apple getting the blame for working conditions at a supplier
    BP – BP having to shoulder responsibility for the Gulf Oil Spill, caused by suppliers
    APP – have been blacklisted by many big brands to avoid association with rainforest destruction

    The big picture is of course that Western countries have outsourced manufacturing to the developing world due to cheaper labour costs – raising a whole range of environmental and social issues. Supply chain CSR management will be a hot topic for the foreseeable future.

  2. One of the greatest challenges is to move the stakeholder conversation from a list of stakeholders that have various interests and benefits, to a system of stakeholders that are interdependent and can be engaged effortlessly in this way. I think people are bringing the stakeholder conversation to the table but is it one that adds work and is not leveraged for real effectiveness. I wrote a book to show Global stories of business public and private, large and small, hi and low tech who have done something profoundly different. And they are stories that have never been told….. until now. Carol Sanford, Author, The Responsible Business, CEO InterOctave Global consultancy, CNBC shortlist for best biz book for 2011 and blogger for CNBC, SSIR and many others.

    PS- supplier chain is a concept they get rid of. And have better results by far.

  3. Hi Fabian, thanks for sharing this – interesting reading. In fact it got me thinking about what my top 5 hot CSR issues for 2011 would be … different to your survey results, but some overlap! I've blogged about them at&nbsp ; – it would be great to hear your thoughts!

  4. Hi Fabian, In my view Employee Engagement is vitally important to CSR. More and more organisations that I work with are looking for ways to engage and build employee support for the green agenda and CSR. Social Media and Social Tools will help to some degree, but until CSR is really embedded into the DNA of an organisation, it can be tough to really progress CSR. For more about the work we are doing, visit when you have a moment.

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