Tag Archives: CSR Policies

CSR and Educational Leadership

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Adapted from my chapter, entitled; “Reconceiving CSR  programmes in Education” in Academic Insights and Impacts (Springer, Germany).

CSR and sustainability issues are increasingly becoming ubiquitous practices in different contexts, particularly among the youngest work force. This contribution suggests that there is a business case for responsible behaviours. Besides, minimising staff turnover, CSR may lead to strategic benefits including employee productivity, corporate reputation and operational efficiencies. Therefore, CSR can be the antecedent of financial performance (towards achieving profitability, increasing sales, return on investment et cetera).

Notwithstanding, the businesses’ involvement in setting curricula may also help to improve the effectiveness of education systems across many contexts. Businesses can become key stakeholders in this regard. Their CSR programmes can reconnect their economic success with societal progress. They could move away from seeking incremental gains from the market . Proactive companies who engage in CSR behaviours may possibly take fundamentally different positions with their stakeholders – as they uncover new business opportunities. This contribution showed how businesses could inspire their employees, build their reputations in the market and most importantly create value in education. This movement toward these positive outcomes may represent a leap forward in the right direction for global education.

This chapter has given specific examples of how different organisations were engaging in responsible behaviours with varying degrees of intensity and success. It has identified cost effective and efficient operations. It reported measures which were enhancing the human resources productivity. Other practices sought to engage in philanthropic practices and stewardship principles. At the same time, it was recognised that it was in the businesses’ interest to maintain good relations with different stakeholders, including the regulatory ones. Evidently, there is more to CSR than public relations and greenwashing among all stakeholder groups (including the employees, customers, marketplace and societal groups). Businesses ought to engage themselves in societal relationships and sustainable environmental practices. Responsible behaviours can bring reputational benefits, enhance the firms’ image among external stakeholders and often lead to a favourable climate of trust and cooperation within the company itself
(Herzberg et al., 2011). This chapter reported that participative leadership will boost the employees’ morale and job satisfaction which may often lead to lower staff turnover and greater productivity in workplace environments. However, it also indicates that there are many businesses that still need to realise the business case for responsible behaviours. Their organisational culture and business ethos will inevitably have to become attuned to embrace responsible behavioural practices.

Governments may also have an important role to play. The governments can take an active leading role in triggering corporate responsible behaviours in the realms of education. Greater efforts are required by governments, the private sector and other stakeholders to translate responsible behaviours into policies, strategies and regulations. Governments may give incentives (through financial resources in the form of grants or tax relief) and enforce regulation in certain areas where responsible behaviour is necessary. The governments ought to maintain two-way communication systems with stakeholders. The countries’ educational outcomes and curriculum programmes should be aligned with the employers’ requirements (Walker and Black, 2000). Therefore, adequate and sufficient schooling could instil students with relevant knowledge and skills that are required by business and industry (Allen and De Weert, 2007). The governments should come up with new solutions to help underprivileged populations and subgroups. New solutions could better address the diverse needs of learners. This chapter indicated that there is scope for governments to work in collaboration with corporations in order to nurture tomorrow’s human resources.

It must be recognised that there are various business operations, hailing from diverse sectors and industries. In addition, there are many stakeholder influences, which can possibly affect the firms’ level of social responsibility toward education. It is necessary for governments to realise that it needs to work alongside with the business practitioners in order to reconceive education and life-long learning. The majority of employers that were mentioned here in this chapter; were representative of a few businesses that hailed from the developed economies. There can be diverse practices across different contexts. Future studies could investigate the methods how big businesses are supporting education. Future research on this subject could consider different samples, methodologies and analyses which may obviously be more focused and will probably yield different outcomes. However, this contribution has puts forward the shared value’ approach. It is believed that since this relatively ‘new’ concept is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated, it may be more easily understood by business practitioners themselves. In a nutshell, this synergistic value proposition requires particular focus on the human resources’ educational requirements, at the same time it also looks after stakeholders’ needs (Camilleri, 2015). This notion could contribute towards long term sustainability by addressing economic and societal deficits in education. A longitudinal study in this area of research could possibly investigate the long term effects of involving the business and industry in setting curriculum programmes in education. Presumably, shared value can be sustained only if there is a genuine commitment to organisational learning for corporate sustainability and responsibility, and if there is a willingness to forge genuine relationships with key stakeholders.

Recommendations
This contribution contends that the notion of shared value is opening up new opportunities for education and professional development. Evidently, there are competitive advantages that may arise from nurturing human resources. As firms reap profits and grow, they can generate virtuous circles of positive multiplier effects. Many successful organisations are increasingly engaging themselves in socially responsible practices. There are businesses that are already training and sponsoring individuals to pursue further studies for their career advancement (McKenzie and Woodruff, 2013; Kehoe and Wright, 2013; Hunt and Michael, 1983). It may appear that they are creating value for themselves as well as for society by delivering relevant courses for prospective employees. In conclusion, this chapter puts forward the following key recommendations to foster an environment where businesses become key stakeholders in education.

  • Promotion of business processes that bring economic, social and environmental value;
  • Encouragement of innovative and creative approaches in continuous professional development and training in sustainable and responsible practices;
  • Enhancement of collaborations and partnership agreements with governments, trade unions and society in general, including the educational leaders;
  • Ensuring that there are adequate levels of performance in areas such as employee health and safety, suitable working conditions and sustainable environmental practices among business and industry;
  • Increased CSR awareness, continuous dialogue, constructive communication and trust between all stakeholders;
  • National governments ought to create regulatory frameworks which encourage and enable the businesses’ participation in the formulation of educational programmes and their curricula.

References

Allen, J., & De Weert, E. (2007). What Do Educational Mismatches Tell Us About Skill Mismatches? A Cross‐country Analysis. European Journal of Education, 42(1), 59-73.

Camilleri, M.A. (2015) The Synergistic Value Notion in Idowu, S.O.; Capaldi, N.; Fifka, M.; Zu, L.; Schmidpeter, R. (Eds). Dictionary of Corporate Social Responsibility. Springer http://www.springer.com/new+%26+forthcoming+titles+%28default%29/book/978-3-319-10535-2

Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B. B. (2011). The motivation to work (Vol. 1). Transaction Publishers.

Hunt, D. M., & Michael, C. (1983). Mentorship: A career training and development tool. Academy of management Review, 8(3), 475-485.

McKenzie, D., & Woodruff, C. (2013). What are we learning from business training and entrepreneurship evaluations around the developing world?. The World Bank Research Observer, lkt007.

Walker, K. B., & Black, E. L. (2000). Reengineering the undergraduate business core curriculum: Aligning business schools with business for improved performance. Business Process Management Journal, 6(3), 194-213.

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Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosures in Europe

Excerpt from: Camilleri, M. (2015). Environmental, social and governance disclosures in Europe. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 6(2). http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/SAMPJ-10-2014-0065

 

Last year, the European Union (EU) announced its new guidelines on non-financial reporting that will only apply to some large entities with more than 500 employees. This includes listed companies as well as some unlisted companies; such as banks, insurance companies and other companies that are so designated by member states; because of their activities, size or number of employees. There are approximately 6,000 large companies and groups within the EU bloc (EU, 2014).  The most prevalent reporting schemes in the EU were often drawn from; the G3 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). In addition, several platforms and organisations that promote corporate sustainability reporting have developed partnerships with AccountAbility, OECD, UNEP, Carbon Disclosure Project and with many governments and sector organisations (Van Wensen et al., 2011; Kolk, Levy & Pinkse, 2008).

 

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When one explores the key topics that companies reported on, it transpired that carbon emission disclosures have become quite a common practice (Kolk et al., 2008). Moreover, recently there was an increased awareness on the subject of human rights and the conditions of employment (Lund-Thomsen & Lindgreen, 2013). Curiously, online reporting has offered an opportunity for accountability and transparency as information is easily disseminated to different stakeholders (Zadek, Evans & Pruzan, 2013). This has inevitably led to increased stakeholder engagement, integrated reporting and enhanced external verification systems. This subject has also been reported by Simnett and Huggins (2015), who have also presented a number of interesting research questions which could possibly be addressed through engagement research. At this point in time, stakeholders are considering reporting schemes as a valuable tool that can improve the quality of their reporting, particularly as it enables them to benchmark themselves with other companies (Adams, Muir & Hoque, 2014). The GRI is often regarded as ‘a good starting point’ for this purpose. Moreover, the provision of a UNGC communication on progress is a new global trend that has become quite popular among business and non-profit organisations. Some of the European organisations are gradually disclosing environmental information or certain other key performance indicators that are of a non-financial nature in their reporting (Zadek et al., 2013). Generally, public policies are often viewed as part of the regular framework for social and employment practices. Therefore, a considerable commitment is made by local governments who act as drivers for stakeholder engagement (Albareda, Lozano, Tencati, Middtun & Perrini, 2008).

 

One way to establish a CSR-supporting policy framework is to adopt relevant strategies and actions in this regard. Such frameworks may be relevant for those countries that may not have a long CSR tradition or whose institutions lack accountability and transparency credentials (Zadek et al., 2013). It may appear that EU countries are opting for a mix of voluntary and mandatory measures to improve their ESG disclosure. While all member states have implemented the EU Modernisation Directive, they have done so in different ways. While the Modernisation Directive ensured a minimum level of disclosure, it was in many cases accompanied by intelligent substantive legislation. National governments ought to give guidance or other instruments that support improvements in sustainability reporting. Lately, there was a trend towards the development of regulations that integrate existing international reporting frameworks such as the GRI or the UNGC Communication on Progress. These frameworks require the engagement of relevant stakeholders in order to foster a constructive environment that brings continuous improvements in ESG disclosures. Regular stakeholder engagement as well as strategic communications can bring more responsible organisational behaviours (Camilleri, 2015). Many corporate businesses use non-governmental organisations’ regulatory tools, processes and performance-oriented standards with a focus on issues such as labour standards, human rights, environmental protection, corporate governance and the like. Nowadays, stakeholders, particularly customers expect greater disclosures, accountability and transparency in corporate reports.

 

At the moment, we are witnessing regulatory pressures for mandatory changes in CSR reporting. Of course, firms may respond differently to reporting regulations as there are diverse contexts and realities. In a sense, this paper reiterates Adams et al.’s (2014) arguments as it indicated that ESG disclosures are a function of the level of congruence between the government departments’ regulatory environment and the use of voluntary performance measures. Somehow, EU regulatory pressures are responding to energy crises, human rights matters and are addressing the contentious issues such as resource deficiencies including water shortages. Notwithstanding, big entities are also tackling social and economic issues (e.g. anti-corruption and bribery) as they are implementing certain environmental initiatives (e.g. waste reduction, alternative energy generation, energy and water conservation, environmental protection, sustainable transport et cetera). In this light, there are implications for practitioners and assurance providers of integrated reports, standard setters and regulators (Simnett & Huggins, 2015). Future engagement research can possibly consider how report content and reporting formats, might impact on organisations’ decision making (Correa and Larrinaga, 2015). This paper indicated that practice and policy issues would benefit from additional empirical evidence which analyse how the European disclosure regulations may positively or adversely affect the corporations’ stakeholders.

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/SAMPJ-10-2014-0065

 

References

Adams, C.A., Muir, S. & Hoque, Z. (2014) “Measurement of sustainability performance in the public sector”, Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 5 (1), 46 – 67

Albareda, L., Lozano, J. M., Tencati, A., Midttun, A., & Perrini, F. (2008). The changing role of governments in corporate social responsibility: drivers and responses. Business Ethics: A European Review, 17(4), 347-363.

ASB (2006). Reporting Statement: Operating and Financial Review. https://www.frc.org.uk/Our-Work/Publications/ASB/Reporting-Statement-Operating-and-Financial-Review-File.pdf Accessed 30th August, 2014.

Bansal, P., Jiang, G. F., & Jung, J. C. (2014). Managing responsibly in tough economic times: strategic and tactical CSR during the 2008–2009 global recession. Long Range Planning.

BSR (2012). Trends in ESG Integration In Investments https://www.bsr.org/reports/BSR_Trends_in_ESG_Integration.pdf Accessed on the 20th September 2014.

Camilleri, M.A. (2015). Valuing Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Reporting. Corporate Reputation Review (18) 2.

Carroll, A.B. (1991). The Pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility: Toward the Moral Management of Organizational Stakeholders. Business Horizons 34 (4) 39-48.CBS (2013)
CCA (2008). Climate Change Act. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents Accessed 2nd October, 2014.

Clark, G.L. & Knight, E.R. (2008). Implications of the UK Companies Act 2006 for institutional investors and the market for corporate social responsibility. Journal of International Law, 11, 259.

ComLaw (2010) Australian Government: “Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Regulations 2010- F2010L01955 http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2010L01955 accessed on the 7th February 2015.

Companies Act (2013) The Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013 No. 1970
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/1970/pdfs/uksi_20131970_en.pdf accessed on the 8th February 2015.

Copenhagen Business School Public policy on CSR reporting: Danish experiences and other observations.https://www.globalreporting.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Global-Conference-2013/slides/GRI-Academic-Public-Policy-TRJ-23May2013.pdf accessed on the 5th February, 2015.

Correa, C., & Larrinaga, C. (2015). Engagement research in social and environmental accounting. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 6(1).

CSR Compass (2014). Responsible supply chain management.
http://www.csrcompass.com/responsible-supply-chain-management Accessed 23rd September, 2014.

Danish National Action Plan (2014). Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Danish Business Authority, Copenhagen. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Business/NationalPlans/Denmark_NationalPlanBHR.pdf Accessed 30th September 2014.

DCCA (2010). Corporate Social Responsibility and Reporting in Denmark. Danish Commerce and Companies Agency.
http://samfundsansvar.dk/file/319099/corporate_social_responsibility_and_reporting_in_denmark_september_2010.pdf Accessed 14th September 2014.

DCGC (2014). Dutch Corporate Governance Code: Principles of good corporate governance and best practice provisions.
http://commissiecorporategovernance.nl/download/?id=606 Accessed on the 2nd October, 2014.

DECC (2014). UK National Energy Efficiency Action Plan. Department of Energy and Climate Change.
http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/doc/neep/2014_neeap_united-kingdom.pdf Accessed 29th August, 2014.

ECCJ (2014). Assessment of the EU Directive on the disclosure of non-financial information by certain large companies. http://business-humanrights.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/eccj-assessment-eu-non-financial-reporting-may-2104.pdf Accesses on the 3rd January 2015.

EU (2002). Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development. COM(2002) 347 final. Commission of the European Communities, Brussels.

EU (2008). National Public Policies in the European Union. ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=6716&langId=en accessed on the 10th February 2014

EU (2011). A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility.
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newsroom/cf/_getdocument.cfm?doc_id=701 Accessed 3rd February 2014.

EU (2012a). Sustainable and responsible business European Expert Group on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and SMEs.
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sustainable-business/corporate-social-responsibility/sme/european-expert-group/index_en.htm Accessed 12th July 2014.

EU (2012b). Energy Efficient Directive. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32012L0027 Accessed on the 5th January 2015.

EU (2014a). Sustainable Development. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/
Accessed 14th June 2014.

EU (2014b). Non-Financial Reporting.
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/accounting/non-financial_reporting/index_en.htm Accessed 25th June 2014.

EU (2014c). European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR). http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/general_provisions/l28149_en.htm Accessed 29th August, 2014.

EU ETS (2014). EU Emission Trading Scheme. http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm Accessed on the 10th January 2015.
Eurofound (2003). Towards a sustainable corporate social responsibility. European Foundation for the improvement of Living and Working Conditions. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

FRC (2012). The UK Corporate Governance Code. Financial Reporting Council. https://www.frc.org.uk/Our-Work/Publications/Corporate-Governance/UK-Corporate-Governance-Code-September-2012.aspx Accessed 3rd October, 2014.

Gov.UK, “The UK is the first country to make it compulsory for companies to include emissions data for their entire organisation in their annual reports,” June 20, 2012, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/leading-businesses-to-disclose-greenhouse-gas-emissions.

Hąbek, P. & Wolniak, R. (2013). European Union regulatory requirements relating to Sustainability Reporting: The case of Sweden. Scientific Journals Maritime University of Szczecin, Zeszyty Naukowe Akademia Morska w Szczecinie.

Hartmann, F., Perego, P., & Young, A. (2013). Carbon Accounting: Challenges for Research in Management Control and Performance Measurement. Abacus, 49(4), 539-563.

Ioannou, I. & Serafeim, G. (2014). The consequences of mandatory corporate sustainability reporting. Harvard Business School Research Working Paper 11-100.

IPPC (2013) Integrated pollution prevention and control (until 2013).http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/waste_management/l28045_en.htm Accessed on the 10th January 2015.
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Kessler, A. & Cuerpo, C. (2011). Macroeconomic Impact of the Sustainable Economy Law. Documentos de Trabajo, 03.

Knopf, J., Kahlenborn, W., Hajduk, T., Weiss, D., Feil, M., Fiedler, R. & Klein, J. (2010). Corporate Social Responsibility National Public Policies in the European Union. EU Commission, Brussels.

Kolk, A., Levy, D., & Pinkse, J. (2008). Corporate responses in an emerging climate regime: the institutionalization and commensuration of carbon disclosure. European Accounting Review, 17(4), 719-745.

Kotler, P. (2011). Reinventing marketing to manage the environmental imperative. Journal of Marketing, 75(4), 132-135.

KPMG (2010). Carrots and Sticks – Promoting Transparency and Sustainability. An update on trends in Voluntary and Mandatory Approaches to Sustainability Reporting.

KPMG in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme and Global Reporting Initiative in Africa. https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/Carrots-And-Sticks-Promoting-Transparency-And-Sustainbability.pdf Accessed 01st October, 2014.

Lund-Thomsen, P. & Lindgreen, A. (2013). Corporate Social Responsibility in Global Value Chains: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?”. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-12.

Martinuzzi, A., Krumay, B. & Pisano, U. (2011). Focus CSR: The New Communication of the EU Commission on CSR and National CSR Strategies and Action Plans. European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN), Quarterly Report No, 23.

Mullerat, R. (2013). Corporate social responsibility: a European perspective. Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series Vol. 13 No. 6, June 2013.

Nidasio, C. (2004). Implementing CSR on a large scale: The role of government. In 3rd Annual Colloquium of the European Academy of Business in Society, Ghent.

Porter, M.E. & Kramer, M.R. (2011). Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review (89) 1-2.

Progress Report (2008). For a Sustainable Germany. German Strategy for Sustainable Development. http://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/fileadmin/user_upload/English/strategy/2008/German_Govt_NSDS_progress_report_08_E.pdf Accessed 10th October, 2014.

Rasche, A. (2009). Toward a model to compare and analyze accountability standards – the case of the UN Global Compact. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 16 (4) 192–205.

Simnett, R. & Huggins, A.L. (2015) “Integrated reporting and assurance: where can research add value?: “, Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 6 (1).

Transparency International (2012). GRI: Germany’s corporate reports do not deliver what they promise. https://blog.transparency.org/2012/12/11/gri-germanys-corporate-reports-do-not-deliver-what-they-promise/ Accessed 21st September 2014.

Van Wensen, K., Broer, W., Klein, J. & Knopf, J. (2011). The State of Play in Sustainability Reporting in the European Union. European Commission, Brussels. http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=6727&langId=en Accessed 7th June 2014.

Whiteside, K. H., Boy, D., & Bourg, D. (2010). France’s ‘Grenelle de l’environnement’: openings and closures in ecological democracy. Environmental politics, 19(3), 449-467.

Zadek, S., Evans, R., & Pruzan, P. (Eds.). (2013). Building Corporate Accountability: Emerging Practice in Social and Ethical Accounting and Auditing. Routledge.

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Europe’s Energy Efficiency Targets

euThe European Union’s (EU) Member States are required to draft National Energy Efficiency Plans (NEEAPs) that report on adopted measures (or planned to be adopted) to implement the main elements of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED, 2012/27/EU). All EU countries are required to achieve a certain amount of final energy savings over the period (01 January 2014 – 31 December 2020) by using energy efficiency obligations schemes or other targeted policy measures to drive energy efficiency improvements in households, industries and transport sectors. The Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) entered into force on the 4th December 2012 in order to establish a common framework of measures for energy efficiency within the EU. EED laid down specific rules to remove barriers in the energy market and to overcome certain market failures that impede energy efficiency. It also provides for the establishment of indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020. All the EU-28 countries are urged to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain – from the transformation of energy, through its distribution until its final consumption.

EED measures may also translate to significant energy savings for consumers. For instance, this directive proposed that consumers ought to access easy and free-of-charge data on their real-time (and historical) energy consumption to enable them to monitor their energy consumption patterns. Moreover, this directive also recommended that large enterprises should carry out an energy audit at least every four years, with the first energy assessment should be held before the 5th December 2015. It also suggested that SMEs could be incentivised to undergo energy audits to help them identify the potential for reduced energy consumption. As from the 1st January 2014, the directive advised the public sector to lead by example by renovating 3% of the buildings owned and occupied by the central governments and by including energy efficiency considerations in public procurement. EED has even set realistic deadlines for further improvements in energy efficiencies in energy generation, the monitoring of efficiency levels of new energy generation capacities, national assessments for co-generation and district heating potential and measures.

It goes without saying that the requirements laid down in the EED directive are minimum requirements that do not prevent any Member State from maintaining or introducing more stringent measures. As from 2013, every member state have to report on the progress achieved towards national energy efficiency targets in accordance with Part 1 of Annex XIV.

Links:

EU (2012) DIRECTIVE on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32012L0027

 

 

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The EU’s directive on the disclosure of non-financial information

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On the 29th September 2014, the European Council has introduced amendments to Accounting Directive (2013/34/EU) that mandates corporate business to disclose their non-financial performance. The EU Commission proposed non-binding guidelines on the details of what non-financial information ought to be disclosed by big businesses operating from by EU countries. This legislation respects environmental, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery matters as expressed in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Ruggie Principles”) and OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (ECCJ, 2014).

This recent EU directive has marked a step forward towards the hardening of human rights obligations for large “public interest entities” with more than 500 employees. At the moment there are approximately 6,000 large undertakings and groups across the EU. Public interest entities include all the undertakings that are listed on an EU stock exchange, as well as some credit institutions, insurance undertakings and other businesses so designated by Member States.

In a nutshell, these non-financial disclosures should shed light on the corporate businesses’ social and environmentally responsible policies and practices. They will feature a brief description of the undertaking’s business model, including their due diligence processes resulting from their impact of their operations. This EU directive encourages corporates to use relevant non-financial key performance indicators on environmental matters including; greenhouse gas emissions, water and air pollution, the use of (non) renewable energy and on health and safety.

With regards to social and employee related matters, the corporate firms ought to implement ILO conventions that promote fair working conditions for employees. The corporate disclosure of non-financial information can include topics such as; social dialogue with stakeholders, information and consultation rights, trade union rights, health and safety and gender equality among other issues. Businesses should also explain how they are preventing human rights abuses and/or fighting corruption and bribery.

Through this directive the EU commission emphasises materiality and transparency in non financial reporting. It also brought up the subject of diversity at the corporate board levels. It has outlined specific reference criteria that may foster wider diversity in the composition of boards (e.g. age, gender, educational and professional background). The EU Commission has even suggested that this transparency requirement complements the draft directive about women on boards.

This new directive still allows a certain degree of flexibility in the disclosures’ requirements. As a matter of fact, it does not require undertakings to have policies covering all CSR matters. Yet, businesses need to provide a clear and reasoned explanation for not complying with this directive. Therefore, non-financial disclosures do not necessarily require comprehensive reporting on CSR matters (although this is encouraged by the Commission), but only the disclosure of information on policies, outcomes and risks (ECCJ, 2014). Moreover, this directive gives undertakings the option to rely on international, European or national frameworks (eg. the UN Global Compact, ISO 26000) in the light of the undertaking’s characteristics and business environment.

It is envisaged that the first CSR reports will be published in financial year 2017 (ECCJ, 2014).

Links:

http://ec.europa.eu/finance/accounting/non-financial_reporting/index_en.htm

http://business-humanrights.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/eccj-assessment-eu-non-financial-reporting-may-2104.pdf

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-301_en.htm?locale=en
 

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National Governments’ Regulatory Roles in Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

The governments are usually considered as the main drivers of CSR policy. However, there are other actors within society, such as civil organisations and industry. It is within this context that a relationship framework has been suggested by Mendoza (1996) and Midttun (2005). Inevitably, it seems that there was a need for a deeper understanding of the governments’ role and function in promoting CSR. Societal governance is intrinsically based on a set of increasingly complex and interdependent relationships. There are different expectations and perceptions within each stakeholder relationship, which have to be addressed to develop an appropriate CSR policy. Essentially, this relational approach is based on the idea that recent changes and patterns affecting the economic and political structure may transform the roles and capacities of various social agents (Albareda et al., 2009). The exchange relationships among different actors and drivers which are shaping CSR policy and communications are featured hereunder in Figure 1.

Figure 1

According to Golob et al. (2013) CSR communication is concerned with the context / environment within which CSR communication practices take place. The authors went on to say that it is necessary to observe CSR communication processes between organisations, (new) media and stakeholders. Apparently, several governments have chosen to draw business further into governance issues without strictly mandating behaviour and specifying penalties for non compliance. For example, the UK government’s Department Innovation and Skills, DBIS website states: “The government can also provide a policy and institutional framework that stimulates companies to raise their performance beyond minimum legal standards. Our approach is to encourage and incentivise the adoption of CSR, through best practice guidance, and where appropriate, intelligent (soft) regulation and fiscal incentives”, (DBIS, 2013).

Similarly, in the context of high unemployment levels and social exclusion in Denmark, Ms Karen Jesperson, the Minister of Social Affairs (2003) had unveiled the campaign entitled, “It concerns us all”, which drew attention to the ways in which CSR could assist in addressing public policy problems (Boll, 2005). In a similar vein, the Swedish governments’ CSR initiative had called on the companies’ commitment in upholding relevant international standards. In Australia, the former prime minister, John Howard had formed the Business Leaders’ Roundtable as a means of encouraging business leaders to think about how they could assist government in solving the social problems (Crane et al., 2009). Arguably, the governments can facilitate CSR implementation by setting clear frameworks which guide business behaviour, establishing non-binding codes and systems, and providing information about CSR to firms and industries. For instance, the UK and Australian governments came up with the notion of CSR as a response to mass unemployment. They set public policies which have encouraged companies to engage in CSR practices by providing relevant work experience and training opportunities to job seekers (see Moon and Richardson 1985, Moon and Sochacki, 1996). Similarly, the EU institutions have frequently offered trainee subsidies and grants for education, including vocational training for the companies’ human resources development (EU, 2007). Governments’ role is to give guidance on best practice. Japan is a case in point, where there are close relationships between government ministries and corporations. The firms in Japan report their CSR practices as they are required to follow the suggested framework of the Ministry of Environment (Fukukawa and Moon, 2004). Apparently, there is scope for the respective governments to bring their organisational, fiscal and authoritative resources to form collaborative partnerships for CSR engagement. National governments may act as a catalyst in fostering responsible behaviours.

For instance, India has taken a proactive stance in regulating CSR as it enforced corporate spending on social welfare (India Companies Act, 2013). With its new Companies Bill, India is pushing big businesses to fork out at least two per cent of their three year annual average net profit for CSR purposes. Clause 135 of this bill casts a duty on the Board of Directors to specify reasons for not spending the specified amount on CSR (EY, 2013). It mandates companies to form a CSR committee at the board level. The composition of the CSR committee has to be disclosed in the annual board of directors’ report. The board will also be responsible for ensuring implementation of CSR action plan. The annual Director’s Report has to specify reasons in case the specific amount (2% of the Profit after Tax) has not been utilised adequately. IB (2014) has recently estimated that around 8,000 companies in India will be shortly accounting for CSR-related provisions in their financial statements. These provisions would closely translate to an estimated discretionary expenditure between $1.95 billion to $2.44 billion for CSR activities. In a similar vein, the European Parliament passed a vote to require mandatory disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups on a ‘report or explain’ basis. This vote amended Directive 2013/34/EU and affects all European-based ‘Public Interest Entities’ (PIEs) of 500 employees or more as well as parent companies (EU, 2014).

 

This is an extract of a paper that will appear in the Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 18 (2).

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