By Daniel Emery

How tech has transformed Corporate Social Responsibility

Once upon a time some of the world’s biggest brands were renowned for their corporate social responsibility – giving something back voluntarily to local communities.

Then scandals such as the BP Gulf oil spill damaged the credibility of CSR.

Images in the Press of cute animals covered in oil and washed up on beaches led the public to dismiss CSR as a cynical way for firms to cover up corporate impropriety – just a PR box-ticking ploy.

But now there are clear examples of tech companies improving the world by forcing big business to up its game and interact with communities directly, learning how to make a real difference.

The impact of IT on corporate social responsibility is apparent from platforms such as Kritical Mass which allows big business to respond to demand from projects saving endangered species in Africa or bringing solar power to Third World communities. All in the name of social good.

This platform offers opportunities to pledge volunteers or specialist assistance. Now that’s what most would call responsible technology.

LinkedIn has millions of members who have indicated they’d be happy to serve on a non-profit board or do some volunteer work.

The rise of campaigning sites like and GoFundMe are testament to the public’s appetite for supporting worthwhile causes.

Which is what prompted Nick Davies to set up UK site Neighbourly just over two years ago, as a way of connecting business with communities.

With Marks & Spencer alone, the site has redistributed more than 40 tonnes of food to those in need. The benefits of technology in promoting philanthropy, it would seem, knows no bounds.

Not-for-profit initiatives like Samasource are working to advance women’s rights in the developing world, by giving computer-based roles to females in areas where their gender would normally prevent them from finding jobs. More than 30,000 have been trained to work for firms such as Dropox and TripAdvisor.

Giving money is no longer enough for socially responsible companies. Encouraging them to donate valuable equipment and man hours to good causes and make a tangible difference is the way forward for tech companies changing the world.

Sustainable business practices are also becoming the new corporate social responsibility.

Take Unilever backing the Toilet Board Coalition, which aims to use technology to tackle the world’s sanitation problems.

Transparency is a mechanism for tech companies helping humanity. Responsible technology is teaching big business that it can no longer hide behind financial generosity. CSR is about rolling up its sleeves and making a real, measurable difference.


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