The Green Paper aims to launch a wide debate and seek views on corporate social responsibility at European and international levels. The Commission is concerned in raising the standards of social development, environmental protection, and social rightsâ€¦ and hopes that the outcome of this initiative will be a new framework for the promotion of corporate social responsibility. Its strategic goal is “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”. The Paper focuses mainly on companies’ responsibilities in the social field.
Nowadays, more and more European companies are promoting their CSR strategies and aiming to show their stakeholders that they are involved in voluntary social commitment. They believe that by doing so they are “investing in their future”, and that will increase their profitability.
The document begins by defining CSR as a concept whereby companies voluntarily integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders. CSR should be regarded as an investment, not a cost, and should not be seen as a substitute to regulation or legislation concerning social rights or environmental standards.
CSR within firms includes human resources management (greater work force diversity, equal pay, non-discriminatory practices, life-long learningâ€¦), health and safety at work, adaptation to change (taking into consideration the interests and concerns of all those who are affected by the changes and decisions when restructuring), and management of environmental impacts and natural resources (reducing the consumption of resources or reducing polluting emissions and waste).
Externally, CSR involves local communities (providing jobs, additional vocational training places, non-polluting activity, partnerships with communities, sponsoring events, charity activitiesâ€¦), business partners (reduce complexity and costs and increase quality, assist smaller firmsâ€¦), human rights (respect of labor standards, protection of human rights, fight against corruptionâ€¦), and global environmental concerns. This helps firms develop positive relations with the local community.
The document says that firms have yet to adopt management practices that reflect CSR, and integrate it in their day-to-day management involving their whole supply chain. Furthermore, firms should start issuing CSR reports, and a global consensus needs to evolve on the type of information to be disclosed, the reporting format to be used, and the reliability of the evaluation and audit procedure.
The document later puts an emphasis on quality in work, innovative thinking, and market-based incentive. It also states that the main contribution of a European approach will be to complement and add value to existing activities, by suggesting approaches and tools, and promoting the best practices and innovative ideas. At the end, the document poses questions that call for promoting and implementing CSR and ways for supporting, maintaining and encouraging it.
You can view the Green Paper here: