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Community Manager
Community Manager
VP, Member Impact, Pledge 1%

In the world of corporate social impact, there are some common terms and acronyms used to describe various aspects of a company's efforts to make a positive difference in society.

In essence, social impact refers to that positive change initiated by a company and its employees with the goal of enhancing the well-being of society. It entails a dedicated effort to make a meaningful difference, tackle challenges, and contribute to a lasting positive influence on the world.

As you start thinking about committing your company to giving back, you might run into other buzzworthy acronyms like “CSR” and “ESG.” While many of these terms and acronyms get used in overlapping ways, they are distinct concepts with different focuses within the broader realm of socially responsible practices. 





Let's take a quick look at some commonly used terms from the world of social impact:


corporate citizenship

Refers to a company's role and responsibilities as a member of society, involving ethical business practices and contributing to the well-being of the community.

cause marketing

A marketing strategy in which a company aligns itself with a social or environmental cause to build brand awareness and engage consumers.

circular economy

An economic model that aims to minimize waste and make the most of resources by designing products and processes with longevity, reuse, and recycling in mind.

corporate philanthropy

 Direct contributions including money, resources, or time to support charitable causes or organizations. 


Greenwashing refers to the practice of making unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims about the environmental friendliness or sustainability of a product, service, or company, typically for marketing purposes. It involves misleading consumers into believing that a product or company is more environmentally responsible than it actually is, often to capitalize on the growing demand for eco-friendly products and to enhance brand image.

impact investing


Investing in companies, funds, or projects with the intention of generating a measurable, positive social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.

shared value


A business strategy that seeks to create both economic value for the company and social value for the community through its core business activities.

social impact


The broader concept that encompasses the positive changes resulting from various initiatives.

social innovation


The development and implementation of new ideas, products, or processes that address social and environmental challenges.



The practice of conducting business in a way that meets current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Sustainable Development Goals


Set forward by the United Nations (UN) in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)  are a collection of 17 global goals aimed at improving the planet and the quality of human life around the world by the year 2030.
E SDG Poster 2019_without UN emblem_WEB.png

triple bottom line


A business framework that considers three dimensions of performance: economic, social, and environmental, emphasizing the importance of profit, people, and the planet.





What’s the difference between CSR and ESG?


While CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)  both involve a company's commitment to responsible business practices, CSR is often broader and encompasses a range of voluntary activities, including philanthropy, while ESG is more focused on standardized criteria for evaluating a company's long-term sustainability and ethical impact. 


CSR is a company's commitment to ethical and socially responsible business practices. It involves integrating social and environmental concerns into business operations and decision-making. 


  • CSR initiatives are often voluntary, and companies may choose the areas they want to focus on based on their values and goals. Reporting on CSR activities is not standardized, and companies may use different metrics to showcase their impact. 
  • CSR initiatives may include short-term projects and philanthropy, but the focus can vary. It is often seen as a way for companies to give back to the community.
  • CSR often emphasizes the impact on broader society and local communities, showcasing a company's commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen.


ESG focuses on evaluating and improving a company's environmental, social, and governance practices for long-term sustainability. Emphasizes sustainable and ethical business practices to assess a company's overall impact on society and the environment. 


  • ESG is increasingly becoming a standardized framework for evaluating a company's sustainability and ethical practices. Investors and rating agencies use ESG metrics to compare companies across industries.
  • ESG is more focused on long-term sustainable practices. It looks at how a company's operations impact the environment, how it treats its employees and engages with communities, and how it ensures good governance practices for the future.
  • ESG factors consider a broader range of stakeholders, including investors, employees, customers, and the environment. It is more comprehensive in assessing the overall impact and sustainability of a company's operations.



Is ESG a dirty word?

Over the last couple of years, ESG quickly rose to buzzword status due to increased emphasis on corporate responsibility, rising investor demand for sustainable practices, regulatory pressures, risk mitigation strategies, changing consumer preferences, and media attention on environmental and social issues. It reflects a broader shift in the business landscape towards more ethical and socially conscious operations.

While ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles are generally seen as positive, however, there has been some backlash around the term due to concerns such as greenwashing, perceived trade-offs with financial performance, lack of standardization, and skepticism about the impact of ESG initiatives. Additionally, ideological differences, fears of overregulation, and doubts about the authenticity of companies' commitment to ESG values have also led to some negative associations with the term. 

That being said, ESG is here to stay.  And companies can proactively address potential backlash against ESG initiatives and build trust with stakeholders by being transparent, using standardized frameworks for consistent reporting, and by educating both internal and external stakeholders. In the long run, it has been shown that a strong approach to ESG enhances a company's reputation, resilience, and performance. 

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