Corporate Social Responsibility

The first steps on CRS have been defined from a merely economic point of view, but as we’ve seen it has quickly been made clear that this paradigm must change. In 2001 European Commission on the Green Paper “Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility” defined it as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis”. On the renewed strategy 2011-2014, European Commission puts forward a new definition of CSR as being “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”.

The United Nations on their 2015 Guide to Corporate Sustainability presents CSR as an “imperative for business today – essential to long-term corporate success and for ensuring that markets deliver value across society”. In fact “the well-being of workers, communities and the planet is inextricably tied to the health of the business”. But how can companies manage to be socially responsible? How do they integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy? To be sustainable, companies have to ensure 5 aspects:

  1. to operate responsibly in alignment with universal principles and take actions that support the society around them;
  2. to push sustainability deep into the corporate culture and identity;
  3. to commit at the highest level;
  4. to report annually on their efforts;
  5. to engage locally where they have a presence at the local level (UN, 2015).

Other important CRS goals are:

  • to maximize the creation of shared value for their owners/shareholders and society at large;
  • to identify, prevent and mitigate its possible adverse impacts.

In particular within HECOS, CSR operationally links to a list of topics which were established following research developed at an early stage of the project led by the University of Stockholm (Furusten, Staffan and Grafström, Maria, 2015). To each of the following areas, there is a corresponding training module described in Chapter 2: Human Rights; Labour; Environment; Safety & Security; Non-discrimination; Anti-corruption; Supply Chain Management and Responsible Marketing .

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