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CSR - what it is and why it is of growing importance

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/01/17
For the most part the legal press largely focuses on the profession’s flaws, however a number of leading publications have reported on the success of the profession in recent weeks. It’s true that the legal sector has a long way to go in terms of improving inclusivity, embracing social mobility and addressing pay inequality, however the last twelve months have proven that CSR is becoming an ever more important strategic objective for firms.

According to the Pro Bono Institute, 130 major law firms donated a cumulative 4.2 million hours last year by committing to its law firm pro bono challenge. It is clear that in recent years law firms have realised the importance of corporate social responsibility, both in terms of creating a respected brand, but also in attracting the top graduates. A recent study found that 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014 and 70% volunteered in some capacity, and half of the first group indicated they did so through their employers.

In fact, one in seven indicated that a company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) would influence their decision to work there. As professions show an increasing interest in contributing to their own community and their organisation’s contribution to the global community, leaders are responding with more coordinated and coherent strategies and programs that support philanthropy and purposeful business activities.

Fortune 500 firms currently spend more than $15 billion a year on CSR activities and that number is likely to continue rising as businesses see signs that investments in CSR improve company performance, talent recruitment and retention. However CSR is far from just the monetary donations a firm makes, and its likely that trainees and junior associates will increasingly look for firms to provide them with opportunities to volunteer and contribute to their wider community and for leaders to use their influence to support causes by using their voice, rather their capital.
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