Corporate social responsibility & Responsible business conduct
The actions and practices of companies have a significant impact on the lives of citizens and residents throughout the European Union and worldwide. Not only in terms of the products and services they offer, or the jobs and opportunities they create, but also in terms of working conditions, human rights, health, environment, innovation, and education.
That is why citizens around the world rightly expect companies to understand their positive and negative effects on the society and environment, at the very least. They should therefore prevent, manage, and mitigate any negative impact they may cause, including any impact within their supply chain globally. Adherence to this duty is also known as corporate social responsibility (CSR) or responsible business conduct (RBC).
Public and private authorities worldwide must play an essential role in supporting and encouraging companies to carry out and conduct their businesses responsibly. In recent years, these authorities have introduced a huge mix of mandatory and voluntary actions to promote corporate social responsibility and to implement the guidelines established by the United Nations but also the principles of sustainable development.
What is corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility is defined as the responsibility of companies towards the impact that their actions have on society. More specifically, companies can become more socially responsible through:
Incorporating social, environmental, ethical and consumer concerns and human rights concerns into their business strategy
Compliance with the law and applicable regulations
Why is corporate social responsibility important?
For businesses, corporate social responsibility provides significant benefits in terms of risk management, savings, access to capital, customer relationships, human resource management, sustainability, innovation capacity but also in terms of profit.
For the economy, corporate social responsibility makes companies more sustainable and innovative, which leads to a more sustainable economy
For society, corporate social responsibility offers a set of values on which a more cohesive society can be built and the transition to a sustainable economic system can be based upon.
Responsible business conduct
This is an alternative term defined as the positive contribution to economic, environmental, and social progress aimed at achieving sustainable development and avoiding, as well as addressing, the adverse effects associated with the direct and indirect operations, services and products of a business.
Corporate social responsibility and society
Moving from the theoretical to the practical side of the discussion, corporate social responsibility can be applied to both larger and smaller companies. In general, a company, any company looks like a society. When a company takes care of this small society and its employees, it is essentially taking care of the society itself. When a company's employees are mentally healthy, they create a functional society within the company. This functionality in turn will be passed on to society, creating a huge chain of responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility should start from the company itself. Any company should first and foremost focus to its processes and employees, and then invest in its corporate social responsibility to the environment and society.
For example, a company involved in the protection of the environment through different actions, should at the same time offer recycling units within its corporate environment. Or a company making donations to organizations and NGOs supporting the low birth rate in an affected country, such as Greece, should first and foremost provide parental leave and benefits to its employees.
A company that wants to adhere to and follow the rules and ethics of corporate social responsibility, must first safeguard the rights of its employees and be consistent initially regarding its internal society. Then, the company should try to defend the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility and employees
There are several examples of companies that for different reasons, such as publicity and the appearances in media and society, carry out and promote corporate social responsibility actions, but do not apply those same principles to the members of the company.
It is well known that employees working for a company, operate and constitute a social whole. Therefore, when a company takes care of this whole and as much as it cares about it, it is like taking care of society by extension. And therein lies the essence of corporate social responsibility. When employees are happy and satisfied, they will stay longer in the company but will also transfer these emotions to their circle and personal network. From their own work at home, to their contacts and therefore to the whole society.
How can companies take care of their employees?
Theoretically, caring for an employee means respecting all their rights but also giving them further incentives, benefits, and reasons to make an extra effort and stay loyal to the company.
For example, a recent practice that many companies and enterprises follow is to issue meal vouchers in the form of cards or coupons to the employees of their business. Many companies choose to provide these meal vouchers as a form of bonus to employees who have achieved certain goals, thus giving them further incentives to operate more efficiently.
These ordinances can be redeemed in numerous places including supermarkets, restaurants and everywhere else, without any restrictions.
The above shows that a company respects its employees and takes care of them. This is also the essence of corporate social responsibility. Only after a company has taken care of its own employees, can a company then expand into the environment and the wider society.
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