Chambers are at the heart of the communities in which they operate. Chamber members all around Ireland continually strive for better regional economic development, better infrastructure and more development in their communities. Given CSR’s core focus on:
- Enhancing the community in which our members and their dependents live, work and grow
- Improving the workplace,
- Enhancing the environment and environmental sustainability,
- Developing a better supply chain
It is for these reasons that Chambers have such an active interest in CSR.
The European Union Commission defines corporate social responsibility as, “the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society.” This reflects the changing nature of CSR whereby it is integrated into every aspect of a business and lies at the core of a company’s overall strategy. CSR is about the ongoing running of a business in a responsible and sustainable manner: it is an attitude rather than just an activity.
CSR should be integrated into every aspect of a business and lies at the core of a company’s overall strategy. CSR is about the ongoing running of a business in a responsible and sustainable manner: it is an attitude rather than just an activity.
CSR highlights the role that businesses play in contributing to a better society by actively engaging and consulting with stakeholders in a way that goes beyond financial and legal requirements.
It is important that CSR remains a voluntary activity; however companies are facing mounting expectations of their social and environmental behaviour. Research shows that society increasingly expects companies to engage in CSR activities despite current global economic difficulties. IBM’s Global CEO Survey 2008 found that customer expectations around corporate social responsibility are increasing, with demand for socially-minded products, services, and even supply chains.
Having a CSR strategy can be mutually beneficial, with companies set to make gains in terms of cutting costs and increasing profitability. While CSR is not pursued in order to make a profit, many initiatives can have a real and quantifiable payback for the company. According to a Chambers Ireland survey, 83% of respondents felt that having a CSR agenda is important to attract potential customers and employees.
The term Corporate Social Responsibility can seem off-putting to a lot of smaller businesses. It needn’t be. Acting in a way that shows some level of care for staff, community and customers is a good start to a strong CSR ethos. The challenge then becomes: how can it be developed; and how can business benefit from it?
Every year, Chambers Ireland hosts the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards to honour and validate best practice in CSR. These awards are run in partnership with Business in the Community Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.
Business in the Community Ireland is the national network for CSR and works primarily with larger companies on CSR and sustainability strategy. For more information visit www.bitc.ie
Chambers Ireland supports the argument that CSR remains a voluntary activity. Government should not legislate on it or make it compulsory. However, we recognise the value of CSR and the role it can play in creating a sustainable economy and society. Therefore, we actively support and continue to promote increased awareness of CSR and application of its principles.
- Government must ensure the correct legislative and regulatory frameworks are in place to allow different industries and sectors of the economy to develop voluntary and non-regulatory initiatives including self-imposed targets, industry codes and memorandums of understanding.
- Government should reward companies with a strong record on CSR and sustainability when it comes to public sector procurement and the tendering for new services and products. In this regard Government ought to be a ‘carrot’ and not a ‘stick’. This can include areas such as waste management, transportation, water and construction.
- We should all incentivise sustainable business activity by offering tax benefits and exemptions to companies who achieve certain criteria. Of course, this also implies that the principle of ‘user/polluter pays’ be enhanced and developed within the broader fiscal framework.
- Chambers will work continue to promote the financial benefits of sustainable business practices through education and the media to allow businesses to make informed decisions.