2020 was undisputedly a year like none other. What started off with widespread wildfires in Australia was soon eclipsed by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed in quick succession by economic uncertainty, growing racial inequity and unrest, political divisiveness – and the most active hurricane season on record.

2020 was the year social issues were escalated and exacerbated under the pressure of the pandemic and pundits drew the connection between the pandemic and climate change – ringing the bell that the next major crisis was looming. Meanwhile, the movement for racial justice grew to a nationwide cry – with calls to address longstanding systemic racism deeply embedded in American society. 2020 unabashedly revealed how interconnected we all are – individuals, communities, businesses, government – the world.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continued, individuals and institutions alike realized there was no going back to the way things were, but rather, this could be an opportunity to act resiliently and rethink a better way moving forward. So, in the middle of unrest and uncertainty, where did we see innovation, progress and possibility in 2020?

To capture the top trends of 2020, Porter Novelli reviewed and analyzed a year’s worth of Purpose-driven news, activities, campaigns and announcements. Through this, we distilled our 10 need-to-know trends for today and tomorrow:

  1. Completing Climate Commitments: Even as the pandemic rages on, nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans expect companies to continue the progress they committed to regarding social and environmental issues. This year, we saw many companies meet massive sustainability goals – some ahead of schedule.

    Kicking off the year, Bank of America announced it met its carbon neutrality goal a year early. In September, Google announced it achieved a lifetime net carbon footprint of zero, followed by a carbon neutrality statement from REI in the same month. 2020 has always been a milestone year for commitments, and even in the face of crisis, companies followed through on their commitments.

  2. Justice Joins the DE&I Movement: 2020 was a year of reckoning for organizations to acknowledge their roles in perpetuating racism in the U.S. In fact, 76 percent of executives today acknowledge businesses’ role in systemic racism – and a further 73 percent of Americans wish more companies would acknowledge past mistakes or biases when talking about race. As companies look internally to address longstanding inequities that have been operationalized, there is still much work left to be done to truly advance justice.

    Investment firm BlackRock committed to hiring 30 percent more Black employees by 2024, while West Elm became the third company to sign the 15 Percent Pledge – dedicating 15 percent of shelf space to Black-owned business. Sephora took July 7th or #BlackoutDay, to not only conduct racial bias trainings for employees, but announce the results of a first-of-its-kind report: the Sephora Retail Bias Study.

To continue reading the full list of 2020’s Top 10 Purpose trends, visit the full article on Sustainable Brands’ website here.