CorPoRate Social Responsibility

Ashley Zachariah ’17

This summer, PR Nation is featuring graduate students’ capstone projects, required to earn a master’s degree in public relations at Hofstra University.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has long been a public relations buzzword for companies doing the right thing. When a company seeks to create goodwill by “giving back” to the communities it serves, that’s good PR. But according to past research, not everyone has the same view of the value or purpose of CSR. As she completed her degree, Ashley Zachariah explored this issue in her capstone paper, “CSR: Baby Boomers vs. Millennials–Understanding Generational Viewpoints on CSR.”

“Public relations practitioners…are diligently trying to figure out how to include millennials in their CSR efforts,” Ashley wrote. “While discussions about the importance of millennials have increased, the dialogue about the baby boomer stakeholder group, particularly when creating CSR campaigns, has greatly decreased.”

Ashley’s research surveyed both millennials and baby boomers, looking at consumer purchasing decisions, employment decisions and general attitudes toward brands, corporations and CSR. Her results differed from previous research, which had shown baby boomers view CSR differently than their younger counterparts.

“Millennials have been typically described as an incredibly egocentric, technologically-obsessed generation, or…millennials have been considered the most compassionate and responsible generation,” Ashley observed. “(My) survey results proved…there is no significant difference between the way in which baby boomers and millennials view CSR. Both the baby boomer generation and the millennial generation do not think about CSR proactively. Rather, if they see a pro-social campaign, the sentiments towards the product and the brand increase positively.”

“Another interesting observation about millennials is that, compared to baby boomers, this generation is using the news to follow a company’s behavior, especially when a company makes a grave mistake or shows their caring side. Both age groups feel the same about wanting to support a company that is acting responsibly through CSR efforts,” Ashley concluded. “PR practitioners…need to pay particular attention to the millennial generation and must be careful not to generalize this group of individuals…The survey participants from both generations generally felt very strongly that companies should be acting as responsible agents in the community and should be rewarded for their efforts.”

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