Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

 

 

 1.  The GSES Corporate Social Responsibility Pillar

 

The GSES CSR pillar is based on the international guideline for Social Responsibility of Organizations: ISO 26000:2011.

Corporate Social Responsibility is strategic in nature. It relates to both business operations and business processes and has an impact on the supply chain and society. As defined by ISO 26000, CSR is the responsibility of an organization for the impact of its decisions and activities on society and the environment through transparent and ethical behaviour that:

  • Contributes to sustainable development, including health and the well-being of society;
  • Takes into account the expectations of stakeholders;
  • Is in accordance with applicable laws and international standards of conduct;
  • Is integrated throughout the organization and is put into practice in its relations

These four characteristics of CSR are all focused on action and assurance. Recognizing, acknowledging and providing insight into CSR performance is an important first step in the growth towards being a sustainable organization.

The CSR Pillar is the most encompassing of all the pillars, it is looks at an orgs generic approach to sustainability. Due to the integral approach of CSR within GSE-Standard CSR Pillar, it is possible to contribute to all 17 United Nations goals for sustainable development.

 

2.  CSR Pillar content

 

Context Analysis

 

Companies and governments are all part of a larger whole. No organization stands alone. There are always customers or members, suppliers and stakeholders. Within the CSR Pillar the context analysis of mapping the environment is the first step. A distinction is made between:

  • internal issues
  • external issues, related to the surrounding socio-economical system
  • external issues, related to the value chain

Internal issues are focused on the organization itself. It’s about concepts as corporate culture (openness/transparency, ethics etc.), business resources (real estate, resources, energy consumption, waste, recycling etc.) and employees (internal versus freelance employees, working conditions, equality between men and women, development, training, recruitment etc.).

External issues have to do with the environment of the organization. For example:

  • the value chain (e.g. industry agreements, covenants such as Green Deals, ICSR covenant etc.), government (e.g. laws and regulations, zoning plans etc.),
  • civil society organizations (NGOs e.g. regarding human rights, animal welfare, nature etc.),
  • market-/sector developments (e.g. from fossil to biobased, robot technology etc.),
  • public opinion and media (e.g. driver bonuses), and local communities (e.g. safety, employment, nuisance).

The physical environment of the organization also plays a role when it comes to external issues. For example, the effects of an organization on infrastructure, surrounding companies or citizens, nature and the environment and safety.

 

Stakeholders

 

One general CSR principle is to respect the interests of stakeholders. In fact, stakeholders play a central role when it comes to the social responsibility of the organization. They are the persons or organizations that have an interest in the decisions and activities of the organization. An organization should identify its stakeholders and be accessible so new stakeholders can also register.

 

Risk and Opportunity Analysis

 

Organizations should manage their sustainability risks and opportunities. The objective of risk management in the context of CSR is to identify the internal and external risks and opportunities related to the activities of the organization. It aims to create priorities and to manage these risks and opportunities.

This applies not only to the risks and opportunities for the organization itself, but also for the risks and opportunities for society, local environment, economic system, and natural environment. It further includes if stakeholders in the value chain and beyond are able to meet the CSR requirements of laws and regulations, international standards of conduct, industry association agreements and the objectives of the own organization.

 

Leadership

 

The Pillar checks if management is committed and shows leadership with regard to CSR.

 

Planning – Policy, Strategy and CSR

 

It is crucial that CSR is integrated into the management of the organization. An organization has a policy, whether global or detailed, and perhaps also a strategy. What ambitions and goals does the organization pursue with regard to sustainability?

Implementing CSR in the organization is ultimately about integrating CSR into policy, strategy and objectives. This should lead to the inclusion of CSR objectives in, for example, annual plans, department plans, project plans or innovative pilots. This does not alter the fact that some organizations consider it useful – as an intermediate step – to formulate a separate CSR policy first.

The CSR pillar looks at the CSR policy, materiality analysis (what is most relevant in terms of impact) and SMART targets. Next it checks if the policy covers:

  • involving the stakeholders
  • continuously improving sustainability
  • innovation
  • life-cycle approach.

 

Communication and CSR

 

Openness and transparency are very important in CSR. That is why communication plays a major role. Communicating about CSR makes it easier to involve stakeholders and engage in dialogue with them.

In particular, it can be said that communication on sustainable aspects, needs and performance is best integrated into regular contacts with stakeholders.

 

Planning & The Seven CSR Core Subjects

 

ISO 26000 has ordered CSR into seven interrelated core subjects:

  • Management of the organization (governance)
  • Human rights
  • Working conditions/labour practices
  • The environment
  • Fair operating practices
  • Consumer issues
  • Involvement with and community development

In the CSR assessment it is checked which of these subjects are addressed in the company policy.

 

Support and implementation

 

The CSR pillar checks if CSR is implemented and supported in various ways e.g. via action plans, management systems, certificates, training and education of employees, and clearly defining CSR responsibilities.

 

Operation

 

For operational aspects, this pillar looks at human rights, environmental impact that is not covered by the other pillars (pollution and water systems), fair business practice, corruption prevention and transparency.

 

Evaluation and improvement

 

The GSES system checks if performance is measured, monitored and assessed with quantitative targets, if this assessment is audited and if the organization draws conclusions from the assessment and works towards continuous improvement.

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