Corporate Social Responsibility

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission speaking at CSR Europe’s General Assembly in Brussels on 11 June 2009 said: ‘We need a new culture of ethics and responsibility…in the current exceptional circumstances, corporate social responsibility is even more crucial than ever.’ He continued, ‘The crisis (current global) resulted, in part at least, from a failure by some businesses
to understand their broader ethical responsibilities. Now all businesses
must rise to the challenge
’.

So what exactly defines Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR)?

CSR is viewed as a system of self-regulation by corporations, integrated into their business model. It monitors and ensures compliance to law and ethical standards. Businesses take responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, stakeholders and all other public interests. Furthermore, businesses encourage growth and development whilst working voluntarily to eliminate
environmentally damaging practices, regardless of legality.

In a nutshell, practising CSR refers to the inclusion of public and environmental interest into corporate decision-making and the honouring of people,
planet and profit.

The European Commission defines CSR as ‘A concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment. A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.’

But as well as being considered by many as ‘the right thing to do’, CSR provides real business benefits:

  • Building a reputation as a responsible business sets you apart
  • Companies often favour suppliers who demonstrate responsible policies
  • CSR helps ensure you comply with regulatory requirements
  • Reducing waste and emissions helps the environment & saves you money

CSR is subject to much criticism, cynicism and debate. Whilst there is a strong case in our current environmental position for the practice of CSR, critics argue that CSR diverts attention from the fundamental economic role of business, that CSR is nothing more than window-dressing, whilst others are concerned that it is a pre-cursor
to the role of government as a watchdog over powerful corporations.

Whatever the pros and cons, this could just be the tool which gives you the edge in a difficult marketplace.

If you would like to discuss CSR and see how it can benefit your business, call us on 0844 822 1770 or email enquiries@ceada.co.uk

Sources and further information including lists of existing high profile members: www.csreurope.org; www.mallenbaker.net