How Apple and Google Are Leading the Way for the Future of Corporate Social Responsibility

Companies like Apple and Google are pivoting their resources to create solutions to issues surfaced by the global pandemic and in turn are reinforcing the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as well as rebuilding consumer trust in technology and the companies behind it. Consumers will have the biggest impact on what this means for a post-COVID-19 world in holding companies accountable.

by Jessi Greenlee   •   April 14, 2020

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    Despite the turmoil and heartache that the Pandemic has brought, there is a clear silver lining that has shone through the chaos. Companies of all sizes across all industries are pivoting their resources to create timely solutions to worldwide issues and in turn, are reinforcing the importance of corporate social responsibility as well as rebuilding consumer trust in technology and the companies behind it. 

    Lifelong competitors and storybook nemeses Apple and Google have teamed up for the greater good. When public health officials identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain COVID-19’s spread, the unlikely duo put their heads, and resources, together. According to the companies’ personal media sources, they are now launching “a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.” 

    Had Apple or Google suggested, even 3 short months ago, that they were developing technology to track people’s movements and physical interactions, society would have responded with a fearful gasp. But in light of the global health crisis, the public seems to be welcoming the new tracking technology, though maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism

    The reality is that technology has a great capacity for both good and evil. Privacy catastrophes like the Facebook election data scandal have embedded an inherent distrust in consumer hearts. However, seeing companies like Apple and Google use their powers for good should bring to light that technological advancements are critically valuable to us as a society and worthy of our support, especially in times of crisis.

    Consumer trust should not be placed on the technology itself but instead, dependent on the companies creating, implementing, and managing it. This technology requires considerable user trust meaning “you have to trust that Apple and Google have built a system that can withstand abuses — either from themselves or governments.

    To get to that place of trust, we, as consumers, need to believe that the tech companies (and our government for that matter) that run our world and our data have integrity and are acting in good faith for the greater benefit for society.

    This is why Corporate Social Responsibility efforts are so critically important to an overall business strategy. 

    The increased focus on corporate social good efforts during COVID has been a silver lining, but it is unclear if it will last. The reaction and support of consumers will have the greatest impact on how that trend sticks to post-COVID business strategies.

    As we try to envision life after COVID-19, it is critical that we continue reflecting on this experience to understand:

    • What is working well?
    • What has been deemed irrelevant?
    • What changes and/or infrastructure are helping companies to thrive amid chaos?
    • What companies and industries are failing to keep up?
    • What do we want to take with us into this new world and what do we want to leave behind?

    As consumers, business leaders, technology users, friends, colleagues, and humans, we now have a unique opportunity to rebuild a world that prioritizes our values and needs as a society. There is no doubt that life after quarantine will look different, so as we navigate the present and the future, we must be intentional with our actions, words, and purchases; continuing to demand that companies reflect on the biggest question of all:

    How do we want to be remembered as showing up during this time?

    The answer to that question and the actions that follow will undoubtedly impact companies’ relevance and success in the very near future. 

    I started the Good Impact Network with one goal in mind: to help purpose-driven organizations own their role in changing the world.

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