Europe settles it: CSR is an impact sport
It’s been one week since the European Commission published the new communication on CSR. I have read several interesting analysis and reactions*, and most of them welcome the declaration as a sign of the EU taking CSR “really seriously”.
The first thing that stroke me is that new document doesn’t highlight the voluntary approach as much as it did in 2002 and 2006. Furthermore, reading the communication the following concepts stand out:
- Impact: The European Commission defines CSR as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”. A responsible company is the one that minimizes negative impacts and creates positive impacts on society. It is not what you produce or what you have to offer, but also all kind of impacts that your processes or operations may have on the environment or the community.
- Trust: Citizens and other stakeholders do not trust companies anymore as a result of the onging economic and financial crisis. Additional efforts are needed to restore trust through transparency and engagement. Companies are encouraged to find the way to translate this cry for transparency into credible strategies, avoiding greenwashing and consumer manipulation.
- Creation of shared value (CSV): The European Commission embraces this concept as a gate to new business opportunities. Innovative services and products will create value for both company and society, including an explicit mention of social business which didn’t exist in the previous communication of 2006.
- International standards: ISO 26000, Global Compact, OECD Principles are some of the recognised frameworks. The definition of what CSR means will no longer be left to what companies see fit. To the contrary, CSR will be defined by these international frameworks. Not everything can be called CSR any more.
Let’s put these keywords in a sentence:
“CSR deals with the impacts of enterprises on society in a way that it restores trust from all stakeholders, creates societal and company value and adheres to internationally recognised standards”
What’s your take? Is the new communication a move in the good direction? What does it mean for companies, especially small and medium enterprises?
*Here are other articles referring to the new communication:
- Allegro Ma Non Troppo, an interesting analysis by Helena Ancos (Spanish)
- Post by Tomás Conde, stressing the financial aspects of the new communication (Spanish)
- Post by David Connor, who calls the new communication “a pretty well balanced carrot and stick approach”
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