What America's new demographics mean for corporate social responsibility

While the makeup of America has been changing over the last several decades, the presidential election brought the new U.S. demographics to the forefront. As the Republican Party prepares to redefine itself in an increasingly less “old, white male” world, the shift may be pushing another movement further along: corporate social responsibility (CSR).

CSR and corporate sustainability are no longer novel ideas. A 2011 study by MIT showed sustainability is now a permanent part of 70 percent of corporate agendas. The reasons U.S. companies are championing CSR vary from improving the ability to attract investors, to reducing risk, to increased green product demand, to addressing stakeholder concerns -- and a piece of this may be related to these same changing demographics. 

To win the election, Obama attracted minorities, women and voters under age 40, all demographics whose populations are growing. Non-whites made up 28 percent of the electorate this year, up from only 20 percent in 2000, and women voters grew by a percentage point or two since 2008. Obama only won about 39 percent of the white vote and 44 percent of voters over 65, according to Edison Research exit polls, but it didn’t stop him from winning this election.

Hispanics are the largest U.S. minority group, at 17 percent of the population, compared with 12 percent for blacks and 5 percent for Asians. Together, minorities now make up more than 36 percent of the population, and this is an increasing trend.  While 87 percent of voters 65 or older are white, only 58 percent of voters 30 or under are white. For the first time in U.S. history, minority babies outnumbered white newborns in 2011.

You might be wondering why these demographics are important to CSR. Several studies have shown that the growing demographics (minorities, women, and young people) care more about the environmental and social benefits of the products they are buying and the companies they are working for.

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