You are here: Home Knowledge Base Society Content and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility Solutions Promote partnerships between business, governments, and NGOs to address sustainability issues and define appropriate common international standards to hold whole industries to account.
Symposium 2009

Solution for Content and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility

The Challenge

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) represents a company’s voluntary commitment to address the ethical, social and environmental factors associated with its operations. Despite its potential for ...

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) represents a company’s voluntary commitment to address the ethical, social and environmental factors associated with its operations. Despite its potential for furthering social needs CSR activities may come under severe pressure in an era of increased global competition and during business cycle downturns.

Promote partnerships between business, governments, and NGOs to address sustainability issues and define appropriate common international standards to hold whole industries to account.

As companies take a more expansive view of corporate responsibility, partnerships with NGOs can help in many ways. NGO engagement can give credibility to a company’s efforts. NGOs may have technical expertise that helps to identify issues and solutions, and they can challenge internal thinking.

More generally, NGOs bring complementary strength and capabilities—to educate consumers, to identify sustainable suppliers and to engage policy-makers. For a company serious about making a difference, a partnership with an NGO can offer new possibilities.

Common international standards allow whole industries to be held to account. A number of such standards already exist (for example, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights) but industry-wide standards are rare.

In many cases, there are conflicting sets of rules and unclear messages about what business should be doing. Yet there is an obvious need for such standards. They provide a benchmark to which companies must aspire, while at the same time helping businesses to deflect undue criticism.

Third-party mediation from national governments, large NGOs, or transnational intergovernmental groupings can facilitate the creation of new standards with broad support and legitimacy.

It is unlikely that standards will develop and compliance come about through voluntary action by a few corporations, or even by the actions of voluntary associations of businesses of which there are several already. Indeed, the competition among these associations for recognition of their versions of standards results in more noise and less useful signals for concerned citizens to rely on. There is a need for a process of convergence in which governments will have to play some role for the sake of providing citizens with reliable and comparable information.

    Implemen- tations

    Implementation
    Symposium 2009

    Global Reporting Initiative (GRI Amsterdam)

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Implementation
    Symposium 2009

    The Smart Campaign - The Microfinance Industry’s Client Protection Initiative

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Related Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2009

    Replace traditional “corporate social responsibility” by “shared value creation” among business, customers, employees, and society in the long run.

    Replace traditional “corporate social responsibility” by “shared value creation” among business, customers, employees, and society in the long run.

    Replace traditional “corporate social responsibility” by “shared value creation” among business, customers, employees, and society in the long run.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2009

    The investor community must require corporations to persue sustainability. Consumer movements must demand products that respect the environment and society.

    The investor community must require corporations to persue sustainability. Consumer movements must demand products that respect the environment and society.

    The investor community must require corporations to persue sustainability. Consumer movements must demand products that respect the environment and society.

    Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2009

    Require periodical, public reporting on companies´ social and environmental impacts. Make reporting subject to independent scrutiny panels.

    Require periodical, public reporting on companies´ social and environmental impacts. Make reporting subject to independent scrutiny panels.

    Require periodical, public reporting on companies´ social and environmental impacts. Make reporting subject to independent scrutiny panels.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society