2011-11-15: The European Commission, in Brussels, recently published a New European Union Policy Document on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) … COM(2011) 681 final – Brussels, 2011-10-25.
To access this document … just go down to the EUR-Lex Link on the right hand side of this Page.
The Updated EU CSR Strategy for 2011-2014 signals an important change of direction … more a re-balancing of emphasis … which enterprises, of all sizes, should immediately be aware of … and whether or not these enterprises are located within Europe … or outside, as far away as China, India, Japan, South Africa, the USA or Brazil, etc.
The Updated CSR Strategy also confirms how the merging of the different and interrelated aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development, i.e. social, economic, environmental, institutional, political and legal … is progressing nicely, and gathering some momentum. We have discussed this issue here many times … and promoted it elsewhere in our work, particularly during the last decade. How time flies !
[ In this last regard, reference should also be made to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2011 Human Development Report: ‘Sustainability and Equity – A Better Future for All’, which was launched in Copenhagen on 2 November 2011.]
A New Definition for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) …
The European Commission puts forward a new definition of CSR as ‘the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society’.
Respect for applicable legislation and for collective agreements between social partners are prerequisites for meeting that responsibility. To fully meet their corporate social responsibility, enterprises should have in place a process to integrate social – environmental – ethical – human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders, with the aim of:
- maximising the creation of shared value for their owners/shareholders, and for their other stakeholders and society at large ;
- identifying, preventing and mitigating their possible adverse impacts.
The complexity of that process will depend on factors such as the size of the enterprise and the nature of its operations. For most small and medium-sized enterprises, especially micro-enterprises, the CSR Process is likely to remain informal and intuitive.
To maximise the creation of shared value, enterprises are encouraged to adopt a long-term, strategic approach to CSR, and to explore the opportunities for developing innovative products, services and business models that contribute to Social Wellbeing and lead to higher quality and more productive jobs.
To identify, prevent and mitigate their possible adverse impacts, large enterprises, and enterprises at particular risk of having such impacts, are encouraged to carry out risk-based due diligence, including through their supply chains.
Certain types of enterprise, such as co-operatives, mutuals, and family-owned businesses, have ownership and governance structures that can be especially conducive to responsible business conduct.
The Updated EU CSR Strategy elaborates an Action Agenda for 2011-2014 …
1. Improving Company Disclosure of Social and Environmental Information: the new strategy confirms the European Commission’s intention to bring forward a new legislative proposal on this issue.
2. Enhancing Market Reward for CSR: this means leveraging EU Policies in the fields of consumption, investment and public procurement in order to promote market reward for responsible business conduct.
3. Enhancing the Visibility of CSR and Disseminating Good Practices: this includes the creation of a European award, and the establishment of sector-based platforms for enterprises and stakeholders to make commitments and jointly monitor progress.
4. Improving and Tracking Levels of Trust in Business: the European Commission will launch a public debate on the role and potential of enterprises, and organise surveys on citizen trust in business.
5. Better Aligning European and International Approaches to CSR: the European Commission highlights the following …
- OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises ;
- 10 Principles of the UN Global Compact ;
- UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ;
- ILO Tri-Partite Declaration of Principles on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy ;
- ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility.
6. Further Integrating CSR into Education, Training and Research: the European Commission will provide further support for education and training in the field of CSR, and explore opportunities for funding more research.
7. Improving Self- and Co-Regulation Processes: the European Commission proposes to develop a short protocol to guide the development of future self- and co-regulation initiatives.
8. Emphasising the Importance of National and Sub-National CSR Policies: the European Commission invites EU Member States to present or update their own plans for the promotion of CSR by mid 2012.
European Commission COM(2011) 681 final – Brussels, 2011-10-25 (PDF File, 136 kb)