The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility: From CSR 1.0 to CSR 4.0

The evolution of CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has undergone significant transformations over the years. At GoodUp, we recognise the importance of evolving CSR practices to meet the changing needs of businesses, employees, and society. The model depicted in the image highlights the journey from CSR 1.0 to CSR 4.0, illustrating how these elements come together to create a powerful impact.

CSR 1.0: Business Supports Causes in Society

In the initial phase, CSR 1.0, businesses primarily focused on supporting external causes in society. This stage was characterised by:

  • Philanthropy: Donations to charities and community projects.
  • Sponsorships: Financial support for events and initiatives.
  • Community Engagement: Volunteering and partnerships with non-profits.

While these activities demonstrated a commitment to social responsibility, they were often separate from the core business strategy and mainly seen as goodwill gestures.

CSR 2.0: Employees Support Causes in Society

The next phase, CSR 2.0, marked a shift towards involving employees in CSR efforts. Here, companies encouraged their workforce to engage in social causes, resulting in:

  • Employee Volunteering: Programs that facilitated employees volunteering their time and skills.
  • Matching Donations: Companies matching employee donations to amplify their impact.
  • Community Days: Organised days where employees collectively participated in community service.

This stage fostered a sense of purpose among employees and began to integrate CSR more deeply into the corporate culture.

CSR 3.0: Business Supports Causes that Matter to Employees

In CSR 3.0, the focus shifted to aligning business support with causes that matter to employees. This approach involved:

  • Employee-Led Initiatives: Empowering employees to lead CSR projects they are passionate about.
  • Internal Campaigns: Creating internal campaigns to raise awareness and funds for employee-chosen causes.
  • Resource Allocation: Allocating company resources to support these initiatives.

By prioritising the causes important to their employees, businesses could enhance engagement, loyalty, and a sense of ownership among their workforce.

CSR 4.0: Business, Employees & Society Create Impact Together

The latest evolution, CSR 4.0, represents the pinnacle of CSR maturity, where businesses, employees, and society collaboratively create impact. This stage is characterised by:

  • Integrated Strategy: Aligning CSR efforts with business goals and societal needs.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Forming strategic partnerships with NGOs, community organisations, and other stakeholders.
  • Co-Creation: Employees, businesses, and society co-creating initiatives that drive sustainable change.

At this stage, CSR is not just an add-on but an integral part of the business strategy, fostering a culture of collaboration and shared value creation.


The evolution from CSR 1.0 to CSR 4.0 highlights the increasing importance of integrating CSR into the core of business operations. By moving towards a model where business, employees, and society create impact together, companies can drive meaningful and sustainable change.

Keep on reading -> The Stakeholder Model of Purpose: Integrating ESG, CSR, DEI, and Sustainability

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