Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can make a significant contribution towards sustainability and competitiveness, both in Europe and globally. The European Commission’s definition of CSR is:
“A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.”
Corporate Social Responsibility is part of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is about organisation’s taking a wider responsibility than just profit generation, this could be supporting local and global initiatives to support communities.
CSR is more relevant than ever in the context economic crisis. It can help to build (and rebuild) trust in business. BP have been advertising lately to highlight all the positive actions taken since the oil spills last year.
Consumers increasingly don’t accept unethical business practices or organizations who act irresponsibly. Advances in social media (giving everyone a voice) mean that negative or destructive practices quickly fuel conversations online. Organisations are accountable for their actions like never before. Consumers can vote wit their feet by boycotting companies or products they perceive are from companies not taking their responsibilities seriously.
CSR should not be viewed as a drain on resources, because carefully implemented CSR policies can help organisations:
· Win new business
· Increase customer retention
· Develop and enhance relationships with customers, suppliers and networks
· Attract, retain and maintain a happy workforce and be an Employer of Choice
· Save money on energy and operating costs and manage risk
· Differentiate your company from your competitors
· Generate innovation and learning and enhance your influence
· Improve your business reputation and standing
· Provide access to investment and funding opportunities
Generate positive publicity and media opportunities due to media interest in ethical business activities.
In November 2010 a multi-year process was created guidelines to encourage environmentally and socially sustainable activities by local, national and multi-national organizations worldwide. The document, ISO 26000, is not designed for formal certification, but as voluntary guidelines accessible to all kinds of organizations in every country.
The goal is to encourage organizations from all over the world to change their operating practices to improve their environmental and social impacts.
For the health, safety or environmental advisor CSR can be another way of exerting influence and gaining support