Two major corporate social responsibility questions will be faced during the economic downturn, according to Ethical Corporation.
Will consumers continue to pay a premium for ethical goods?
One thing manufacturers have going for them is the consumer belief that ethical brands, while more expensive, often present longer-term savings and, depending on the product, energy-savings. Supermarkets, especially in the UK (think Tesco), have spent a lot of money building trust on corporate responsibility issues and are unlikely to cut down on their range of ethical products.
Will CSR continue as a core activity or be jettisoned as a cost-cutting measure?
Malcolm McIntosh, founding editor of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, suggests that addressing climate change will continue to drive corporate responsibility into the mainstream, regardless of the economy. Companies that have invested in CSR will be reluctant to lose their competitive edge.
Others think green marketing campaigns will lose traction and energy management will gain favor.
We also might see companies that are actively addressing environmental, social and governance issues outperforming others in a recession.