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Australian corporate social responsibility over 20 years: A timeline

24 June 2020 at 6:30 pm
Maggie Coggan
Corporate social responsibility has come a long way in the last 20 years. We take a look back through the Pro Bono News archives to re-examine some of the major moments that have defined the sector.

Maggie Coggan | 24 June 2020 at 6:30 pm


Australian corporate social responsibility over 20 years: A timeline
24 June 2020 at 6:30 pm

Corporate social responsibility has come a long way in the last 20 years. We take a look back through the Pro Bono News archives to re-examine some of the major moments that have defined the sector.

From 2000 to now: The key events of Australia's corporate social responsibility sector


FTSE4Good launches a corporate ‘naughty and nice’ list.

The global list ranks companies meeting its strict corporate social responsibility criteria.


Australia’s first CSR index names Westpac most responsible company.

The bank is ranked ahead of BP, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Toyota.


The first survey on Australian corporate volunteering is released

Corporate volunteering is regarded as “positive and worthwhile” for a company and its staff. 


A newly-elected Labor government calls on corporates to try harder to meet sustainability targets.

A federal senator says that CSR can no longer just be about philanthropy or charity, but has to become integral to the way that the corporate sector “does business”. 


A new global CSR standard, ISO26000, is approved.

The voluntary standard provides public and private organisations with a new paradigm to help them operate in a socially responsible way.


Shared Value grows in Australia

The business strategy designed to solve social issues profitably gains traction with a number of Australian corporates.


Two Australian companies are among 99 organisations expelled by the UN Global Compact.

Colorpak and Swan Services are among organisations shed by the worldwide CSR reporting program for failing to communicate on progress for at least two consecutive years.


Five Australian companies are named among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World at the World Economic Forum.

Westpac, ANZ Banking Group, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Stockland and Wesfarmers all make the top 100.


Workplace giving increases seven-fold

Businesses have reported dramatic participation increases in workplace giving as a result of engagement programs run as part of Workplace Giving Month.


A federal cabinet reshuffle is labelled a “new dawn” for CSR under new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Experts say there is potential for the new cabinet to further CSR objectives for the first time.


Inaugural Shared Value awards launch

The awards recognise and highlight the growing number of corporations, NFPs and governments using the business strategy to solve social issues profitably.


The ninth annual review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand is published.

The study finds that over half of the respondents support mandatory sustainability reporting. Meanwhile, for the first time Australian banks have fallen off the list of top 10 CSR companies.


United Nations Sustainable Development Goals positioned as the future of CSR.

Experts say the goals provide a powerful framework for business to engage in corporate social responsibility.  


Australia’s first federal Modern Slavery Act becomes law

Under the new law, businesses with turnovers of more than $100 million must report action taken to stamp out modern slavery in their supply chains. 


BHP calls for Aussie corporates to do more on climate change.

BHP commits US$400 million (A$580 million) to develop technologies to cut emissions from its own operations and from the companies using its products such as coal, iron ore and gas.


A record breaking number of Woodside Petroleum’s shareholders vote in favour of the company setting new climate targets.

Corporate activists say it’s an indication that Australian investors are waking up to the gas industry’s lack of action on climate change. 


Shared value and CSR sector call on business to use COVID crises to create change.

Experts say the current crisis is an opportunity for businesses and the whole of society to shift their thinking and demonstrate what change is possible. 

For a deeper look at these key changes, you can check out our article examining how far corporate social responsibility has come since 2000 here.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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