Experts: Corporate Social Responsibility Cannot Fall by the Wayside, Especially During Crises

While it can be difficult to prioritize CSR when you’re just trying to keep your business from derailing, maintaining focus may be the best way to stay on track.

A tree-lined road in Tennessee
by Therese Van Ryne
June 28, 2022

In recent years, we’ve seen companies become increasingly accountable for their actions – and inaction – regarding social issues. According to an Aflac study, 77% of consumers say they are now motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place, while 73% of investors state that efforts to improve the environment and society contribute to their investment decisions. In other words, companies can’t just say they’re committed to improving local communities or protecting the planet. They must follow through, as stakeholders are paying attention.  

Yet, some companies claim that when a crisis strikes, it can be hard to uphold their corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments – and I understand their challenges.  

Zebra is a responsible corporate citizen and has prioritized our CSR efforts in the face of recent global and regional crises.  

For example, when the pandemic started, it may have been natural for many organizations to pull back on their volunteerism and philanthropic initiatives. Zebra did the opposite. We improved and globalized our offerings to empower more employees to get involved, even virtually.  And with supply chain challenges, it would have been understandable if we would have scaled back the efforts of our Green Product Council or eliminated some of our environmental impact objectives – at least temporarily. Yet, we didn’t.  

We charged forth, more focused than ever on upholding our commitments to our stakeholders, which includes our employees, partners, customers and shareholders. We even launched The Green Herd, a new employee network focused on sustainability! Building upon some of the incredible work seen across many different teams and regions, The Green Herd’s mission is to support Zebra’s environmental, social and philanthropy efforts; and provide individual growth and development opportunities through active participation in sustainability initiatives.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 

We don’t believe that CSR can fall by the wayside during times of crisis.  

So, I’ve invited two guests to join me on the latest episode of the Your Edge Podcast to talk more about what they and their teams have been doing to sustain their CSR initiatives and how other organizations can learn from their experiences, even when crises introduce new challenges. 

Why - and How - to Prioritize CSR in Times of Crises

Tune into my 25-minute conversation with CSR experts Shelley Eades and Michelle Grodzki now to learn:

  • The surprising impact the pandemic has had on companies’ CSR commitments, including our own

  • Why it’s important to harness the passion of your people when it seems difficult to sustain CSR activities

  • How to balance your long-term CSR commitments against the time-sensitive local calls-to-action being made in times of crisis 

  • The importance of orienting your CSR initiatives and philanthropic contributions toward causes that raise the collective energy of employees, customers, partners and communities

  • Why it’s a misperception that B2B customers care less about a company’s CSR practices than consumers

  • Why companies are often held more accountable for their CSR actions – or inaction – in times of crisis

  • How crises ultimately serve as catalysts for CSR and why you shouldn’t wait until a crisis hits to have a plan of action in place  

  • What advice Shelley and Michelle have for companies that feel they have no choice but to deprioritize CSR when there are market or company disruptors


Interested in how Zebra Nation is giving back to communities, working to reduce our environmental impact and create a culture of inclusivity and belonging. Visit our CSR page or check out these recent CSR-related blog posts and podcast episodes.  

Therese Van Ryne
Therese Van Ryne is Global Director of PR, Thought Leadership and Advocacy for Zebra Technologies. One of PR News’ 2019 Top Women in PR and Crain's Chicago's 2021 Most Notable Executives in Marketing, Therese also has experience as a journalist, editor and producer, reporting nightly from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
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