14 September 2021

Corporate Social Responsibility and Gen Z

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Gen Z is the generation that cares.

The fever dream known as 2020 was grim. A pandemic that kept the majority of us indoors magnified social injustices and environmental problems by a gazillion.

According to a 2019 article by Sourcing Journal, around 97% of Gen Z expect companies to address urgent social and environmental issues.

More and more of you want to work for employers that align with your morals and values, and employers are listening.

Businesses are upping their efforts to become cleaner, greener, and kinder through initiatives known as corporate social responsibility.

If working for a company that cares about the world as much as you do is high on your career requirement list, read on.

In a hurry? Click to skip below…

  • What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Ethical Responsibility
  • Economic Responsibility
  • Philanthropic Responsibility
  • The companies leading the way in CSR

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

By definition, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the ethical responsibility of a business for its actions and effect on society and the environment.

Think of CSR as a self-made business plan that helps companies focus on various initiatives and goals that help businesses to remain responsible.

CSR isn’t a newly formed term. The idea of responsible companies has been around for literal aeons. Well, since the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution.

In 1953 American economist Howard Bowen first used the term in his publication ‘Social Responsibilities of the Businessman.’

Fast forward to now, businesses are keen to be on the right side of history by innovating and getting involved in several schemes that help make positive change.

There are several forms of responsibilities. These include…

Environmental Responsibility

Let’s face it – we’ve ruined this glorious planet. But all isn’t lost.

You’ve probably seen a lot of adverts showing how some of your favourite brands are now becoming environmentally friendly. As they should.

Businesses are looking at how much they impact the environment and what they can do to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet.

Actions as simple as changing packaging to become recyclable or bio-degradable and using renewable types of electricity and less paper are just some changes companies are making.

Zero-waste innovator Unpackaged wants to see an unnecessary-packaging-free world by encouraging customers to reuse their own containers each time they shop. They’ve recently teamed up with Waitrose to bring the idea to some of its branches.

Like this article? If not, reconsider your position. And share it. 

Ethical Responsibility

Everybody deserves to be treated fairly and equally. 

So how do businesses and employers put this into practice?

  • Ensuring better and equal pay
  • Hiring a diverse workforce
  • Creating work programmes and initiatives that tackle unemployment
  • Ensuring supply chain is ethical

Recently companies have also been keen to ensure that those they might not directly employ are fairly treated. As a result, a lot of companies now use suppliers that also believe in ethical procedures.

A great example of this is the Fairtrade foundation.

You’ve probably seen their logo on some of your favourite products. They work with farming cooperatives, businesses, and governments to ensure that trade is fair. It helps to protect the rights of workers and makes sure they are paid fairly.

Economic Responsibility

Businesses still have to make money, right?

Economic responsibility makes sure businesses make decisions that bring in money without harming society or the environment.

It keeps companies in check, forcing them to actively think about the potential consequences of their decisions.

Philanthropic Responsibility

Charity begins at the office, or however it goes.

Philanthropy doesn’t just mean donating to charities. It’s very easy to donate to a charity and then forget about it. When it comes to social responsibility, the work is constant.

While giving to charities is part of philanthropic responsibility, it also includes investing back into the community.

You can play your part by organising projects where employees can volunteer. Or do fun things for charities that don’t necessarily mean running a marathon…

The companies leading the way in CSR

As you begin to trawl through the masses of placement and internship applications, a lot of you might be wondering which companies are smashing their CSR.

There are so many companies doing fantastic work to make sure they are places where people can be proud to work. 

So we’ve listed a few of them here…


Unilever prides itself on innovation. From its products to their placements, it’s no surprise they’re placed at #34 in our 100 Best Student Employers for 2021/2022.

The company has committed itself to “making sustainable living commonplace” by putting several plans in place across many company sectors.

Some of their commitments include:

Protect and regenerate nature

Deforestation is real, and Unilever is 10-years-deep into leading the way for sustainable sourcing. By 2023, the company aims to have a deforestation-free supply chain across palm oil, paper and board, tea, soy and cocoa.

Waste-free world

According to The World Bank, global waste is expected to grow to 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050. Yikes. By 2025, Unilever wants to halve the amount of virgin plastic used in their products and up recycled content by 25%. They also want to make their products fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion

“We want everyone who works for Unilever to be treated fairly and to have fair access to opportunities.” Unilever wants to create an equitable and inclusive culture by removing barriers and bias from all current policies and increasing diversity among its staff and advertising.

The good deeds don’t stop there. Unilever is also committed to making a change in the following areas: Climate action, positive nutrition, health and wellbeing, raising living standards, future of work, respect for human rights, and responsible business.

Did you know Unilever is hiring for their 2022 placements right now? Check out their company profile and get applying.

The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company has been melting the hearts of many since 1923, but its commitment to the greater good doesn’t end there.

Its CSR initiatives are split into five sectors. On top of Environmental Sustainability and Content and Products, they also include;

Social Impact

The company mainly does this through monetary and non-monetary contributions, many employee volunteer work, local collaborations, and various social impact programs. In 2020, Disney cast members and employees contributed 321,700 hours of service through their Disney VoluntEARS programme.

Disney Conservation

Since its founding in 1995, The Disney Conservation fund has raised over $100 million (£72.5 million) to support non-profits working with communities to save wildlife and protect the planet.

Supply Chain

Everything from protecting human rights to reducing its carbon footprint, Disney wants to make sure that its products are sourced responsibly and sustainably.

“Do you want to work for Disney..?” or however the Frozen song goes. You can! 

Placing at #79 on our Best Student Employers list, The Walt Disney Company is also hiring for its 2022 placement schemes.


If you’ve ever watched an Aldi advert, you’d know they strive to be “everyday amazing.” They meant it.

For Aldi, they have just three goals. And that’s to be:


Aldi wants to work towards a better environment, which is why they’ve been carbon neutral since 2019. They’ve been able to do this by reducing their carbon footprint through buying 100% renewable electricity, reducing plastics, using greener gases, and getting involved in carbon offset projects for the emissions they can’t reduce just yet.


Alongside Team GB, Aldi launched their “Get Set to Eat Fresh” initiative, which encourages young people aged 5 – 14 to maintain a balanced diet through eating healthier and learning how to cook. On top of this, Aldi also has an employee wellbeing program to help support its staff network.


From treating its employees right to ensuring the supply chain is responsibly sourced, Aldi wants to ensure that everything they do is fair. Some recent achievements include its bananas being 100% Rainforest Alliance certified and winning the Thompson Reuter Foundation’s Stop Slavery Enterprise award in 2020 for its efforts in tackling modern slavery and protecting human rights.

Aldi is currently looking for fresh placement talent. Give their profile a read and get applying.


One of the world’s greatest tech giants, IBM, is committed to “building a more sustainable, equitable future.”

Alongside more than 180 companies spanning various industries, IMB adheres to the Responsible Business Alliance Code of Conduct. These are basically the ten commandments, except it doesn’t involve a flood or two of each animal. It’s an exciting read.

In 2020 employees participated in over 2 million hours of volunteer work, and in February of this year announced that it plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

IBM’s CSR initiatives are split into key areas:


Besides making their move to 0% greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, IBM wants to ensure 75% of its power comes from renewable sources by 2025 and 90% by 2035. In 2020, 96.5% of “end-of-life” products and waste were reused, recycled, or sold.


IBM is all about transparency. When 2020 brought social injustice to the forefront, it saw a need to improve its opportunities for diversity and community. An example of this is IBM creating ways for people to gain tech skills and changing their recruitment process to include more of those with a skills background rather than academic.

Fun fact: IBM reached #23 on our 2021/2022 Best Student Employers list. They’re also currently hiring for their 2022 placement schemes – get informed and apply.

Plenty of businesses are doing amazing things, so you can join the employment world knowing you’re contributing to a better planet.

There are loads more information on CSR and responsible companies on Beyoncé’s internet.

This very handy list by RepTrak listing 100 of the most reputable companies in 2021 is a great place to start.