Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
P&I Team Briefing
44 Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethical Consumerism
set out an introduction to CSR, and a brief overview of current
Since that briefing The Work Foundation has produced work on
CSR. It defines CSR as encompassing all the ways in which an organisation
and its activities interact with society, balancing the right
to trade freely with the duty to act responsibly, and addressing
the way that an organisation behaves in relation to its key impacts
This briefing looks at action branches can take
to work with employers develop CSR policies and to put them into
Trade Unions the Public Sector and CSR
UNISON's definition of CSR emphasises the need
to observe fair employment rights, equality and diversity, human
rights, ethics, environmental and international issues.
Much of the current work on CSR involves multinational
corporations (MNCs), and utilities. Trade unions and public sector
organisations (PSOs) are notably absent in commenting or influencing
the agenda. This could be because unions take for granted that
organisations and business should operate on a socially responsible
basis, and that the basis of trade unionism is fairness and equality.
Similarly for PSOs the majority of activities are in providing
public services, being socially aware and responding to people's
needs. MNCs and Utilities in particular seem to need CSR to improve
their image to consumers, shareholders and the public at large.
However, trade unions need to catch up on CSR
jargon, and recover ground multinational corporations appear to
have hijacked from us. CSR fits in well with trade union values,
and there is a case to be made to put trade union values, workers
rights, and human rights at the centre of CSR activities.
Developing a CSR Strategy
The Work Foundation CSR report is based on a
survey it has carried out, and on company / organisation case
It concludes that CSR should be an integral part
of the way the business / organisation operates. UNISON believes
that trade union involvement from the beginning is essential,
and we've revised the Work Foundation actions for effective CSR
strategies to reflect this.
- Active leadership on CSR issues ideally a working group
to develop and drive CSR policies forward should be formed including
representatives from senior management and trade unions.
- Clear vision and values from the organisation developed
jointly between employer / unions through the steering group.
- Comprehensive stakeholder consultation conducted by the
steering group, including unions.
- Policies that align company commitments to stakeholder expectations
again ensuring that employees and unions as key stakeholders
are incorporated in this process.
- Measurement of the company's social and environmental performance.
Guides with which to measure CSR are noted below.
- Embedded strategies to address key social and stakeholder
issues which includes trade union issues.
- A link between stakeholder consultation and the organisation's
corporate governance structure trade unions should be already
linked into this structure however it is important to bring
in other stakeholders' views to the body that makes key decisions.
- A commitment to regular reporting and continuous improvement.
Policy Areas to address with CSR:
- Health and Safety
- Equal opportunities and diversity
- Fair employment practices to include partnership working
with trade unions.
- Bribery and corruption
- Charitable giving
- Community involvement
- Human rights including international human rights
- Transparency and disclosure
- Stakeholder engagement
Activities to address:
To be truly effective CSR should be intrinsic
to a company or organisations activities, to include:
- Employment practices
- Production / Services
- Promotion / advertising
- Influencing / leadership role
Using standards to measure CSR is not widespread,
but a number of organisations are developing benchmarks to monitor
Global Reporting Initiative for reporting on CSR http://www.globalreporting.org/index.htm
Business Impact / Winning with Integrity
from Business in the Communityhttp://www.business-impact.org/bi2/homes/winning.cfm
This is perhaps the most accessible site around, and has some
useful guides on developing and implementing a CSR strategy. However,
there is still scope for trade unionists to improve the models
in the Winning with Integrity initiative as it fails to involve
trade unions at an early stage in fact only in the latter stages
does it advocate engaging and consulting with workers!
SIGMA (Sustainable Integrated Guidelines for Management)
AA1000 framework and the Global Compact
The organisation behind AA1000 is AccountAbility the institute
of social and ethical accountability. The website is more complex
and it appears that there is still consultation on the guidelines.
UNISON has concerns that all the guidelines noted
above focus on corporate business, and therefore the benchmarks
recommended reflect the goals of shareholders and big business.
We believe there is scope for trade unions to develop benchmarks
with which to measure CSR to place more emphasis on fair employment,
recognition and partnership with trade unions, and developing
the equality agenda.
Reporting on CSR
UNISON recognises that it is important to report
on progress of CSR strategies both internally and externally.
The following means of disclosure on CSR could be used:
- Annual report
- Publicity material
- Social / CSR report
- Sustainability report
Action for Branches
- Raise CSR with your employer with a view to forming a steering
group with union management representation to drive the issue
- Consider what CSR activities you would want your organisation
/ company to address and put them on the steering group agenda.
- Closely monitor how the CSR strategy develops.
The Work Foundation:
Dave Watson - email@example.com
@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572