Tag Archives: Corporate social responsibility

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

1) Objective

To launch a wide debate on how the European Union could promote corporate social responsibility on a European and International level, in particular, on how to make the most of existing experiences, to encourage the development of innovative practices, to bring greater transparency and to increase reliability in evaluating and validating the various initiatives undertaken in Europe.

2) Document or Iniciative

Green Paper – Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility [COM(2001) 366 – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Background

Corporate social responsibility can make a positive contribution to the strategic goal decided by the Lisbon European Council: “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. A European approach to corporate social responsibility forms part of the broader context of various international initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact (2000), the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (1997-2000), or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2000). While these initiatives are not legally binding, the European Commission is committed to the active promotion of the OECD guidelines. Observance of the core ILO labour standards (freedom of association, abolition of forced labour, non-discrimination and elimination of child labour) is central to corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility

Being socially responsible means not only fulfilling the applicable legal obligations, but also going beyond compliance and investing “more” into human capital, the environment and relations with stakeholders. The experience with investment in environmentally responsible technologies and business practices suggests that in going beyond legal compliance companies can increase competitiveness and it can have a direct impact on productivity.

Corporate social responsibility should nevertheless not be seen as a substitute to regulation or legislation concerning social rights or environmental standards, including the development of appropriate new legislation. In countries where such regulations do not exist, efforts should focus on putting the proper regulatory or legislative framework in place in order to define a level playing field on the basis of which socially responsible practices can be developed.

Whilst corporate social responsibility is so far mainly promoted by large or multinational companies, it is relevant in all types of companies and in all sectors of activity, from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinationals. Certain SMEs already assume their social responsibility, particularly through community involvement. Worker cooperatives and participation schemes, as well as other forms of cooperative, mutual and associative enterprises structurally integrate other stakeholder interests and take up spontaneous social and civil responsibilities.

Corporate social responsibility: the internal and external dimensions

Under increasing pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consumer groups and now also investors, companies and sectors are increasingly adopting codes of conduct covering working conditions, human rights and environmental aspects, in particular those of their subcontractors and suppliers. Surveys have shown that consumers not only want to buy good and safe products, but they also want to know if they are produced in a socially responsible manner. In recent years, investors have seen socially responsible investing (SRI) in the social domain and investment in environmental protection as a good indication of sound internal and external management. Socially responsible practices can thus help open the way to reconciling social development with improved competitiveness.

Within the company, socially responsible practices primarily involve investment in human capital, health and safety, and managing change. They also cover environmentally responsible practices relating to the management of the natural resources used in production. In addition to these internal aspects, companies also contribute externally to their local communities, by providing jobs, wages, services and tax revenues. On the other hand companies depend on the health, stability, and prosperity of the communities in which they operate. In this sense, corporate social responsibility involves a wide range of stakeholders: business partners and suppliers, customers, public authorities and NGOs representing local communities, as well as the environment.

In a world of multinational investment and global supply chains, corporate social responsibility must also extend beyond the borders of Europe. One of the external dimensions to corporate social responsibility is that of human rights, particularly in relation to global production activities. Despite the existence of international instruments such as the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, human rights remain a very complex issue presenting political, legal and moral dilemmas.

Integrated management of social responsibility

Companies’ approaches in dealing with their responsibilities and relationships with their different stakeholders vary according to sectoral and cultural differences. In general, companies tend to adopt a mission statement, code of conduct, or credo where they state their purpose, core values, and responsibilities towards their stakeholders. These values are then translated into action across the organisation, adding a social or environmental dimension to their plans and budgets in order to carry out social or environmental audits and set up continuing education programmes.

Many multinational companies are now issuing social responsibility reports. While environmental, health, and safety reports are common, reports tackling issues such as human rights or child labour are not. In order for these reports to be useful, a global consensus needs to evolve on the type of information to be disclosed, the reporting format to be used, and the reliability of the evaluation and audit procedures.

The Green Paper invites public authorities at all levels, including international organisations, enterprises from SMEs to multinationals, social partners, NGOs, other stakeholders and all interested individuals to express their views on how to build a partnership for the development of a new framework for the promotion of corporate social responsibility, taking account of the interests of both business and the various stakeholders. Enterprises need to work together with public authorities to find innovative ways of developing corporate social responsibility.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Research and innovation > Research in support of other policies

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 22 March 2006 to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee – Implementing the partnership for growth and jobs: making Europe a pole of excellence on corporate social responsibility [COM(2006) 136 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the voluntary integration of social and environmental objectives into the commercial activities of enterprises and into their relationships with their partners.

CSR meets the objectives of the European Union’s (EU) social policy and the Strategy for Sustainable Development. This practice can also be of benefit to innovation, competitiveness and job creation.

Contributing to sustainable growth and employment

In the context of increased global competition and an ageing population, the EU must stimulate the production of enterprises which respect their social responsibilities. CSR may contribute to:

  • the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in the labour market;
  • an increase in investment in skills development, lifelong learning and the employability of employees;
  • improvements in public health, for example by means of voluntary labeling of foodstuffs and non-toxic chemicals;
  • innovation on social and environmental matters;
  • reduced levels of pollution and a more rational use of natural resources (obtaining the European Ecolabel scheme and investments in eco-innovation, etc.);
  • the respect for European values and standards on human rights, environmental protection and employment;
  • the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

European alliance for CSR

The Commission supports the establishment of an alliance to act as an umbrella for CSR initiatives. The Commission encourages the sharing of experience and good practice between enterprises, communicating the results to the public and the development of resources dedicated to CSR.

The new instrument is open to European enterprises of all sizes, on a voluntary basis. Their level of participation is flexible as no formal requirements are imposed.

Actions for promoting CSR

The development of CSR practice must involve a wide range of actors, including trade unions, investors, consumers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this context, the Commission focuses on the following aspects in particular:

  • establishing a strengthened partnership that is broader than the alliance, including not only businesses but also all relevant stakeholders and national and regional authorities (particularly in Member States where CSR is a less well-known concept, as well as in acceding and candidate countries);
  • supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives, involving social partners and NGOs at sectoral level;
  • cooperating with Member States within the Group of High-Level National Representatives on CSR in order to mobilise the national and regional instruments;
  • raising consumer awareness of the impact of their choices;
  • incorporating CSR in the curricula of business schools and other education institutions;
  • promoting CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • respecting international benchmarks, such as the MDGs and the Global Compact for businesses.


Another Normative about Promoting corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 22 March 2006 to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee – Implementing the partnership for growth and jobs: making Europe a pole of excellence on corporate social responsibility [COM(2006) 136 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the voluntary integration of social and environmental objectives into the commercial activities of enterprises and into their relationships with their partners.

CSR meets the objectives of the European Union’s (EU) social policy and the Strategy for Sustainable Development. This practice can also be of benefit to innovation, competitiveness and job creation.

Contributing to sustainable growth and employment

In the context of increased global competition and an ageing population, the EU must stimulate the production of enterprises which respect their social responsibilities. CSR may contribute to:

  • the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in the labour market;
  • an increase in investment in skills development, lifelong learning and the employability of employees;
  • improvements in public health, for example by means of voluntary labeling of foodstuffs and non-toxic chemicals;
  • innovation on social and environmental matters;
  • reduced levels of pollution and a more rational use of natural resources (obtaining the European Ecolabel scheme and investments in eco-innovation, etc.);
  • the respect for European values and standards on human rights, environmental protection and employment;
  • the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

European alliance for CSR

The Commission supports the establishment of an alliance to act as an umbrella for CSR initiatives. The Commission encourages the sharing of experience and good practice between enterprises, communicating the results to the public and the development of resources dedicated to CSR.

The new instrument is open to European enterprises of all sizes, on a voluntary basis. Their level of participation is flexible as no formal requirements are imposed.

Actions for promoting CSR

The development of CSR practice must involve a wide range of actors, including trade unions, investors, consumers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this context, the Commission focuses on the following aspects in particular:

  • establishing a strengthened partnership that is broader than the alliance, including not only businesses but also all relevant stakeholders and national and regional authorities (particularly in Member States where CSR is a less well-known concept, as well as in acceding and candidate countries);
  • supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives, involving social partners and NGOs at sectoral level;
  • cooperating with Member States within the Group of High-Level National Representatives on CSR in order to mobilise the national and regional instruments;
  • raising consumer awareness of the impact of their choices;
  • incorporating CSR in the curricula of business schools and other education institutions;
  • promoting CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • respecting international benchmarks, such as the MDGs and the Global Compact for businesses.

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the European Commission of 2 July 2002 concerning Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development [COM (2002) 347 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a European strategy to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR involves companies integrating social and environmental objectives in their business operations and in their interaction with the actors concerned.

The Commission emphasises that the CSR programmes contribute to the sustainable development of the European Union (EU). In addition, they have a positive impact on the management and competitiveness of enterprises, considering in particular:

  • the globalisation of trade, which means that enterprises have activities and responsibilities abroad, including in developing countries;
  • consumer awareness regarding the image and reputation of enterprises;
  • financial institutions and investors taking into account the CSR activities of enterprises in order to evaluate the success and risk factors inherent in a company;
  • the possibility of using CSR activities to develop the skills of employees.

Principles of the European strategy

The strategy to promote CSR proposed by the Commission is based on a series of principles:

  • the voluntary, transparent and credible nature of CSR activities;
  • the identification of areas where European action will add value;
  • a balance between the actions taken in the economic, social and environmental spheres and in relation to consumers’ interests;
  • attention to the specific needs of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • compatibility with existing international agreements and instruments (particularly those of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)).

Key actions of the European strategy

Firstly, the Commission encourages developing knowledge on the impact of CSR on the economic performance of enterprises. It therefore proposes to launch studies into activities to raise awareness and disseminate information.

The exchange of good practice between businesses and between Member States must also be encouraged through the networking and coordination of actors.

The skills in enterprises must be supported, in particular by using European funding to train employees. In addition, the principles of CSR must be integrated into management training programmes in enterprises.

SME’s capacity for action must be strengthened by taking into account their specific characteristics and their limited resources. The Commission therefore encourages the exchange and dissemination of good practice, SME associations, cooperation between large companies and SMEs, and awareness-raising campaigns.

The transparency of CSR practices and tools must be guaranteed. The Commission therefore encourages the adoption of:

  • codes of conduct (concerning workers’ rights, human rights, protection of the environment, etc.);
  • management standards (in order to integrate social and environmental aspects into the day-to-day activities of enterprises);
  • instruments for measuring performance (such as internal evaluation reports);
  • labels on products;
  • standards for Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), in order to direct investors towards enterprises in the light of their CSR results.

The creation of a European forum could be of benefit to all the parties involved in CSR activities. It should be a place for exchanging experiences, cooperation and identifying areas where European action is required. In the first instance, the Commission invites the forum to look at:

  • the link between CSR and the competitiveness of enterprises;
  • the contribution of CSR to sustainable development, including in third countries;
  • issues specific to SMEs;
  • the effectiveness of existing codes of conduct;
  • guidelines and common criteria for evaluating CSR activities;
  • labelling programmes;
  • the dissemination of information on Socially Responsible Investment policies.

Lastly, the Commission proposes to integrate the objectives of CSR into all European policies. In accordance with its strategy to promote sustainable development, the EU has undertaken to integrate economic, social and environmental considerations into its policies. In addition, the CSR principles are particularly relevant in the following European policies:

  • employment and social affairs policy, particularly in the fields of education, training, equal opportunities and the integration of people with disabilities, the anticipation of industrial change and the restructuring of enterprises;
  • environmental policy, through evaluating environmental results, ecotechnology, and the environmental effectiveness of products (i.e. the link between the quantity of products and their impact on the environment);
  • consumer policy, in particular with regard to raising consumer awareness of social and environmental standards;
  • public procurement policy, in order to include social and environmental criteria in public procurement procedures;
  • external trade, external relations, and development policies, including with respect to multi-national enterprises;
  • public administration policy, given that the European institutions are also committed to implementing the CSR principles.

Context

This Communication follows on from the Green Paper on CSR published in 2001.


Another Normative about Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Enterprise > Business environment

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the European Commission of 2 July 2002 concerning Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development [COM (2002) 347 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a European strategy to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR involves companies integrating social and environmental objectives in their business operations and in their interaction with the actors concerned.

The Commission emphasises that the CSR programmes contribute to the sustainable development of the European Union (EU). In addition, they have a positive impact on the management and competitiveness of enterprises, considering in particular:

  • the globalisation of trade, which means that enterprises have activities and responsibilities abroad, including in developing countries;
  • consumer awareness regarding the image and reputation of enterprises;
  • financial institutions and investors taking into account the CSR activities of enterprises in order to evaluate the success and risk factors inherent in a company;
  • the possibility of using CSR activities to develop the skills of employees.

Principles of the European strategy

The strategy to promote CSR proposed by the Commission is based on a series of principles:

  • the voluntary, transparent and credible nature of CSR activities;
  • the identification of areas where European action will add value;
  • a balance between the actions taken in the economic, social and environmental spheres and in relation to consumers’ interests;
  • attention to the specific needs of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • compatibility with existing international agreements and instruments (particularly those of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)).

Key actions of the European strategy

Firstly, the Commission encourages developing knowledge on the impact of CSR on the economic performance of enterprises. It therefore proposes to launch studies into activities to raise awareness and disseminate information.

The exchange of good practice between businesses and between Member States must also be encouraged through the networking and coordination of actors.

The skills in enterprises must be supported, in particular by using European funding to train employees. In addition, the principles of CSR must be integrated into management training programmes in enterprises.

SME’s capacity for action must be strengthened by taking into account their specific characteristics and their limited resources. The Commission therefore encourages the exchange and dissemination of good practice, SME associations, cooperation between large companies and SMEs, and awareness-raising campaigns.

The transparency of CSR practices and tools must be guaranteed. The Commission therefore encourages the adoption of:

  • codes of conduct (concerning workers’ rights, human rights, protection of the environment, etc.);
  • management standards (in order to integrate social and environmental aspects into the day-to-day activities of enterprises);
  • instruments for measuring performance (such as internal evaluation reports);
  • labels on products;
  • standards for Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), in order to direct investors towards enterprises in the light of their CSR results.

The creation of a European forum could be of benefit to all the parties involved in CSR activities. It should be a place for exchanging experiences, cooperation and identifying areas where European action is required. In the first instance, the Commission invites the forum to look at:

  • the link between CSR and the competitiveness of enterprises;
  • the contribution of CSR to sustainable development, including in third countries;
  • issues specific to SMEs;
  • the effectiveness of existing codes of conduct;
  • guidelines and common criteria for evaluating CSR activities;
  • labelling programmes;
  • the dissemination of information on Socially Responsible Investment policies.

Lastly, the Commission proposes to integrate the objectives of CSR into all European policies. In accordance with its strategy to promote sustainable development, the EU has undertaken to integrate economic, social and environmental considerations into its policies. In addition, the CSR principles are particularly relevant in the following European policies:

  • employment and social affairs policy, particularly in the fields of education, training, equal opportunities and the integration of people with disabilities, the anticipation of industrial change and the restructuring of enterprises;
  • environmental policy, through evaluating environmental results, ecotechnology, and the environmental effectiveness of products (i.e. the link between the quantity of products and their impact on the environment);
  • consumer policy, in particular with regard to raising consumer awareness of social and environmental standards;
  • public procurement policy, in order to include social and environmental criteria in public procurement procedures;
  • external trade, external relations, and development policies, including with respect to multi-national enterprises;
  • public administration policy, given that the European institutions are also committed to implementing the CSR principles.

Context

This Communication follows on from the Green Paper on CSR published in 2001.