Corporate Social Responsibility: When the company commits to

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Corporate social responsibility. Three messages to define “corporate social responsibility”. Popular for several years in the economic world, this term covers a very wide range of applications and uses. What could, in fact, have in common with the fieldwork of a small craft company or a roadmap that was published over ten years by a giant of CAC 40? Indeed, if the oceans are – naturally – diverse, the aspiration is identical. The company has to make a tangible commitment within its ecosystem.

DrIn the media, in specifications or requests for tenders, but also on corporate websites or even directly on the packaging of marketed products in supermarkets, these three letters – CSR – are evident. Is an acronym among many other names, supposed to distinguish a company in the woods from a company fond of acronyms? Actually, nothing. For if the alignment of these three letters can at first glance generate a certain form of incomprehension – the same thing, moreover, as the enshrined expression “corporate social responsibility” – it includes an approach that can turn out to be virtuous in many ways. It is already, for the representative who has created and concretely rejected it on Earth, to deploy a certain number of actions for the benefit of his ecosystem in the broad sense, including his employees, customers and suppliers. , but also the region in which it was created. Not forgetting what constitutes our common interest: the environment.

CSR Spectrum

Analyzing the advantages of implementing a CSR approach means above all knowing how to clearly define it. For the European Commission, corporate social responsibility is “a concept that defines the voluntary integration, by companies, of social and environmental concerns into their business activities and relationships with stakeholders”. In fact, these are not mandatory procedures by the various regulations in force, whether European or national, but rather those that “bypass”. Finally, summed up by the Ministry of Economy, Finance, Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, CSR is “the contribution of companies to sustainable development challenges” (read the box). While the natural driving force of companies – including, moreover, those in the social and solidarity economy – is wealth creation and employment, CSR qualifies for the positive impact that their work can have, both internally and externally. Qualification and even, at times, quantification, given that there is an international standard called ISO 26000 “Social Responsibility”, whose task is to specifically define the scope of an organization’s corporate social responsibility around seven main themes: governance, respect for human rights, labor relations conditions, environment, fair practices, consumer issues and finally the impact on communities and local development. But in fact, if the labels already exist, and if the French regulatory arsenal directly or indirectly related to CSR tends to consolidate from year to year (see box), the topic still falls most often as a voluntary approach by The companies themselves. Other than what is obligatory, the latter are in this way willing to work towards achieving what they consider “essential”.

plural execution

However, establishing a CSR approach to music does not naturally carry the same meaning when a multinational CAC 40 or a regional VSE-SME is based in Haute-Garonne, Lozère or Tarn. It is recognized that the desire to make a commitment to the benefit of its environment and territory, along with its stakeholders – employees, suppliers, partners, customers, etc. – can be identical. Provided that the CSR roadmap implemented by the company is, of course, the fruit of real convictions and not an illustration of a pure marketing approach, sometimes condoning the green bleaching process. But in any case, its size and implementation will be different depending on the size of the organization, its market, its geographical footprint, and of course the sector of activity in which it operates. On the large accounts side, the CSR initiative is often linked to regulatory orders or expressed by clients themselves. In practice, for example, a large public business group or a luxury brand made in France would be more willing to commit to CSR if the calls for bids to which they must respond include societal and environmental standards or if the target customers highlight these issues as critical factors in the buying process.

But, even among the largest groups, opportunism does not always lead the action. Some, such as Tarn’s range of pharmaceuticals and dermatological cosmetics, have made defending the environment and biodiversity a real historical battle, even before the concepts of development, sustainability and corporate social responsibility were formalized.

As for small and medium-sized enterprises, they often participate locally in curricula of this type. And for good reason: these companies, whose capital is often family owned, in their territory, are firmly integrated into their ecosystem, be it environmental, partnership or business. In many respects, these VSE SMEs are city actors. They live for their land. When they work to conserve biodiversity, it is the living environment for their employees, suppliers and customers that they protect. When they promote the welfare of their employees at work, they build their loyalty and thus reduce their turnover. When working for local associations, they enhance their brand image and build relationships of trust with elected officials and residents.

Whether it’s perpetuating its business, improving its image, building loyalty among its partners or attracting talent, there is no shortage of reasons to launch – at its level – in a CSR approach. It remains to implement these actions in a way that is dimensional, in an economic world today fueled by all the uncertainties.

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