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Attempting to link a non-profit mindset to the corporate world. CSR | sustainability | social impact | people + planet | Toronto, Canada
Graph with pen & ruler. Corporate social responsibility, bullshit, ideals, sustainability, indicators
Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a lot of bullshit. Companies jump on the latest CSR trends. Bland, vague goals are prone to manipulation and grandiosity. A company may not have the intention to deceive us when it declares, “We’ll help achieve gender equality by 2030!”, but the statement is bullshit because it’s so generic that it becomes meaningless. Words like “reduce”, “improve” and “participate” feed our desire to hear that companies are at least doing something.

We have to find a way to fix the CSR bullshit.


Bullshit has no regard for the truth. This makes it different from lying…

Woman suspended with umbrella against yellow wall. Trust, self-management, holacracy, sociocracy, teal organizations
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

Last year was a lot. By October, with the US election looming, my existential dread about the state of the world reached an all-time high. Thankfully, just at the same time, I read the latest book by historian and author Rutger Bregman called Humankind: A Hopeful History.

The book gave me the hope I needed to get through the election and whatever came after. As someone who thinks about how companies can do better, it also gave me insight into what needs to be at the heart of any initiative to improve our working lives: trust.

If we trust people…

Do Something Great sign; CSR; corporate social responsibility; content marketing; marketing; non-profit fundraising
Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Hopefully, right now, your company is already doing some work to make the world better and cause less harm. And your (potential) customers want to know about it: there’s a lot of research that demonstrates consumers today want the companies they buy from to be accountable and to do more for the environment and communities.

That’s why information on what your company is doing shouldn’t be relegated just to an annual report, recruitment outreach or one webpage: stories about your corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives should be firmly planted in content marketing.

This content can include things like articles and…

Person hugging tree — corporate social responsibility, sustainability, business, meditation, mindfulness, compassion, empathy
Photo by Trent Haaland on Unsplash

Over 10 years ago, I went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Each day consisted of a very early wake up call, many hours of seated meditation, a couple of simple meals and absolutely no digital or physical distractions. We were also encouraged to mindfully walk around the grounds. I remember the circular path around the perimeter, the carefulness with which I walked and the moments I took to look closely at plants and breathe in the air.

When I got back to the city, I was buzzing. During my first walk in my neighbourhood, I yelled to my companion…

People sitting at desk. Diversity, equity, inclusion, philanthropy, supply chain, marketing, corporate social responsibility
Photo by Christina @ from the #WOCinTech project

Like the reverberations of the #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter has opened up a space and dialogue about systemic issues in society and the workplace. It’s a long awaited reckoning and a catalyst for change. Companies have been making statements and sometimes commitments in response to the movement, but there are still so many that need to demonstrate how they are addressing injustices.

Statements are nice, but companies need to take a hard look at what diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) looks like in their workplaces. Sure, it’s good for business, but it’s also a moral imperative. Through tools, policies, programs and…

cryptocurrency, blockchain, bitcoin, ethereum, smart contract, non-profits, charities, NGOs, philanthropy, donations
Image by Megan Rexazin from Pixabay

Applications of blockchain technology¹ are set to be revolutionary for the non-profit sector. Blockchain is already affecting how services and projects are implemented and managed and how donations are being received and distributed. Faster distribution of funds to aid recipients, greater financial inclusion and the ability to bypass points vulnerable to corruption are just a few of the ways it’s currently being used.

With the rise in crypto millionaires, younger generations’ interest and investment and developing legal definitions, people now want to donate their cryptocurrency (the most famous case so far being the Pineapple Fund). …

Change is Coming Poster — corporate advocacy, corporate activism, brand activism, branding, CSR, social impact
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Corporate advocacy is no longer only stodgy political lobbying for profit motives. These days, it’s about being vocal and making impacts on social, political, economic and environmental issues. Ideally, it has the goal of improving society and addressing systemic issues.

Some call it brand activism, but I prefer the more encompassing term of corporate advocacy. Over the years, corporate advocacy has moved into the realms of marketing and operations and CEO activism. But corporate advocacy needs to be integrated throughout a company and not relegated to a marketing trend.

The case is already made in favour of corporate advocacy. Most…

Goalposts. Sustainable Development Goals; SDGs; corporate social responsibility; SDG washing; Global Indicator Framework
Photo by Utsman Media on Unsplash

Four years down, 10 more to go, until humanity reaches its best before date.

Well, not really. At least, we should hope not.

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which came into effect in 2016, is a plan of action for the world for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership, to ensure the health and well-being of everyone. It lays out, what many call ambitious, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets.

End poverty, end hunger and achieve gender equality are just a few of the goals.

And it calls on governments, international institutions, local authorities, indigenous…

Post it notes. User design; empathy; edge cases; stress cases; product design; company culture; employee engagement
Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

I recently read Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech and one concept she presented became a real a-ha moment for me: stress cases. This concept is fleshed out in a book called Design for Real Life, co-authored by Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer, which I subsequently devoured.

Stress cases replaces the idea of edge cases in design: instead of thinking about the extreme problems or situations of users and relegating them to exceptions, it calls on designers to consider tough life situations when someone may use their product, to think about how to…

Office work. Employee engagement; impact-weighted accounts; monetary valuation; gender; diversity; ESG; financial statement
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Companies with high levels of engaged employees have better levels of profitability, sales production, safety incidents, absenteeism and quality. Those companies that invest in the cultural, technological and physical environments of employees are more often listed in many best-of lists and average more profit, revenue and productivity. A high level of employee engagement is particularly important at a time when there are changes in the work environment and additional stressors on daily work and output. Companies need employees to buy in and dig in to the organization’s goals and needs and help the company move through difficult times.

While there…

Amy Coulterman

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