November 08, 2011

European Commission Revamps its CSR Strategy <p>The European Commission just published its new <a href="" target="_self">EU Strategy 2011-14 for CSR</a>.<br />Besides proclaiming that corporate social responsibility is the future for European businesses the paper contains some interesting thoughts. Here are the highlights:<br /><br />The EC has redrafted its previous definition of CSR to the short and catchy “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts in society” which it perceives to be more modern and in-step with the current understanding of what CSR is.</p> <p>Companies acting in a socially responsible manner&nbsp;are considered the key to reaching the EU’s stated goals of achieving 75% employment, sustainable growth and responsible business behaviour.&nbsp;The Commission&nbsp;also&nbsp;clearly articulates&nbsp;that it wants to see businesses as the drivers of CSR development. Nevertheless a clear prerequisite for any responsible action will be compliance with laws and collective agreements – recognition that both States and civil society have their roles to play in shaping the debate on corporate responsibility.<br /><br />Instead of offering a prescriptive approach there is an acknowledgement that many areas of CSR may be intuitive – particularly for smaller companies – and that there is no single way to achieve responsibility. Instead, enterprises are encouraged to engage with international standards and principles if they feel the need for more formalised guidance.</p> <p>At the same time the Commission has set an ambitious agenda for action to facilitate movements in the area, which includes:</p> <ul> <li>Enhanced visibility of CSR and dissemination of good practices;</li> <li>Improved tracking levels of trust in business – e.g. through attacking green-washing;</li> <li>Improved self- and company-regulating processes;</li> <li>Enhanced market rewards for CSR;</li> <li>Improved company disclosure of social and environmental information;</li> <li>Continued integration of CSR into education, training and research;</li> <li>Renewed&nbsp;emphasis on&nbsp;importance of national and sub-national CSR policies; and</li> <li>Increased alignment between European and global approaches to CSR.</li> </ul> <p><a href="" target="_self">Reports</a>&nbsp;indicate that the EC is putting its money where its mouth is suggesting the inception of a 90 million Euro fund to support enterprises excelling in their social and environmental impact.<br /><br />Businesses with strong corporate responsibility agendas should see this re-affirmation of the central importance of CSR in EU policy as encouragement to continue their efforts. Those who are still in the process of getting on the wagon will find many incentives to up the ante.</p>


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