The brightest and best of the next generation are challenging traditional corporates to live up to their values and demonstrate a positive contribution beyond the bottom line. Research by YouGov and GT Nexus reported recently in Enterprise Times tells us that CSR figures highly in the buying decisions of young people.

According to the report, millennials surveyed in the US, France, Germany and the UK all cited the treatment and payment of workers (25.1%) and the environmental credentials (20.8%) of a company as a reason to switch loyalty.

There is plenty of evidence too that this generation takes a strong interest in the values of the organizations they choose to work for. According to Dr Christian Busch of the LSE, millennials are rejecting the linear approach of their seniors who aspired to ‘do well, then ‘do good’ and instead seek meaningful jobs where they can achieve for themselves and give as much as they take throughout their careers**.

Brands and businesses that fail to grasp the strategic importance of taking proactive responsibility for all the social and environmental impacts of their activities risk loosing market share and missing out on talent.

CSR is not a sideshow, nice-to-have HR initiative or PR project. It is not about running a cake sale or a marathon in support of the CEO’s favourite charity (as worthy as those activities may be). CSR is about how your business is managed and the contribution it makes to society.

The people who work for you and buy from you are saying clearly that they want to have a positive impact on their own communities and our wider society. To be successful in this exciting new world, businesses need to put social responsibility at the heart of business strategy and communicate their values and purpose clearly.