Both CSR practitioners and researchers expect companies to profoundly reconsider their CSR strategies in the post-pandemic era and to interlink their personal goals with those related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
It is no secret that the COVID-19 global pandemic has had a profound impact on the global business community and its relations with global and local surroundings. Pressed by the cost of the continuing crisis, countries around the world have decided to open up to the business world and seek support. Indeed, in many countries – Serbia included – numerous companies rushed to support healthcare systems in providing essential equipment and medication. More than half of all companies in Serbia report that the crisis has had a major impact on their finances and operations, while the remaining companies assess its impact as medium. Regardless of these sobering statistics, most companies did their best to channel their CSR activities toward those who are most in need.
This unprecedented crisis has affected both consumer behaviour and company practises. Consumers changed the way they use their spare income and spare time, taking the opportunity to reconsider their values, priorities and sentiments in buying products and brands.
These changes have important consequences for companies. In the face of these new consumer trends, they will need to adjust their strategic decisions. Numerous companies have already decided to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) to demonstrate their commitment to fighting against COVID-19 and alleviating the negative consequences of the pandemic for their stakeholders.
Both CSR practitioners and researchers expect companies to profoundly reconsider their CSR strategies in the post-pandemic era.
Consumers expect companies to respond to both the global and local threats to economic, social and environmental sustainability that have been imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak
Our interlocutors, as well as their colleagues elsewhere around the world, expect that the experiences of the COVID-19 global pandemic could lead to changes in consumer psychology and behaviour, especially in terms of the central role that CSR can play in reconstructing business opportunities and international economies.
For example, it is expected that companies will put much more effort into shifting towards more genuine and authentic CSR that contributes to addressing urgent social and environmental challenges. This will come as a consequence of the changes in consumer preferences, as the people demand action that is more meaningful and ethical. This, for example, means interlinking CSR activities with sustainability and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In a more straightforward way, consumers expect companies to respond to both the global and local threats to economic, social and environmental sustainability that have been imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Such a situation may create space for some improvements in domestic legislation governing CSR, specifically food donations, which it seems could be needed even more once the full weight of the economic crisis hits.
As pointed out in our publication, it is estimated that the value of food donated on the Serbian market currently amounts to a value of 525.6 million dinars. If VAT on food donations were to be abolished, donors would increase their contribution by almost a third. Translated into meals, this would mean an additional 1.2 million meals.
This topic was debated with decision makers at the height of the pandemic, but it remains to be seen whether the proposal will be adopted.