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Corporate Social Responsibility – A definition

Before we begin to discuss CSR in the Czech Republic, and in tourism, we should start by defining of corporate social responsibility quite precisely. Different organizations, economists or management theorists have framed different definitions – although there is considerable common ground between them. We can also state that there is no uniform definition. This is due to the fact, that the CSR has no specific boundary and is based on volunteering.

CSR definitions have proliferated in the literature particularly since the 1980s, but the first definition of the Social Responsibility was published by Bowen in his book Social Responsibilities of the Businessman. Bowen set forth a definition of the Social Responsibility: „It refers to the obligations of businessmen to pursue those policies, to make those decisions, or to follow those lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of our society.“ [6; p.6 ]

Common ground between CSR concept and definitions is widely acknowledged and evident from the representative definitions given below.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)1in its publication Making Good Business Sense by Lord Holme and Richard

1The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

Watts, used the following definition: „Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforse and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.“

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)2uses the following definition:

„Corporate Social Responsibility means operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business. CSR is seen by leadership companies as more than a collection of discrete practices or occasional gestures, or initiatives motivated by marketing, public relations or other business benefits. Rather, it is viewed as a comprehensive set of policies, practices and programs that are integrated throughout business operations, and decision-making processes and are supported and rewarded by top management.”[9]

Business in the Community (a business-led charity focused on promoting responsible business practise; one of The Prince´s Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which Prince of Wales is President) defines CSR as „the management of a company’s positive impact on society and the environment through its operations, products or services and through its interaction with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors and suppliers.“[4]

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has developed its “OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: Global Instruments for Corporate Responsibility”. [24]

Developed by Gorden in 2001, these Guidelines illustrate the broad range of CSR. These Guidelines are one of the world´s foremost corporate responsibility instruments and are becoming an important international benchmark for corporate responsibility. They contain voluntary principles conduct in such areas as human right, disclosure of information, anti- corruption, taxation, labour relations, environment and consumer protection. They aim to promote the positive contributions multinational enterprises can make to economic, environmental and social progress.

These Guidelines were updated in 2011.

If we speak about global initiatives or definitions of CSR we must not forget about UN Global Compact, which is a stategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally-accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

In October 2011 the European Commision published a new policy on corporate social responsibility. The EC has previously defined Corporate Social Responsibility as „a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their

2BSR is a non-profit organization, its mission is to work with business to create a just and sustainable world.

interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis“. [17] Now the Commission puts forward a new definition of CSR as „the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society.“ [10] Respect for applicable legislation, and for collective agreements between social partners, is a prerequisite for meeting that responsibility. To full meet their corporate social responsibility, enterprises should have in place a process to integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders, with the aim of maximising the creation of shared value for their owners/shareholders and for their other stakeholders and society at large, identifying, preventing and mitigating their possible adverse impacts.

For companies seeking a formal approach to CSR, especially large companies, authoritative guidance is provided by internationally recognised principles and guidelines, in particular the recently updated OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the ILO Tri-partite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

This core set of internationally recognised principles and guidelines represents an evolving and recently strengthened global framework for CSR. European policy to promote CSR should be made fully consistent with this framework.

According to these principles and guidelines, CSR at least covers human rights, labour and employment practices (such as training, diversity, gender equality and employee health and well-being), environmental issues (such as biodiversity, climate change, resource efficiency, life-cycle assessment and pollution prevention), and combating bribery and corruption. Community involvement and development, the integration of disabled persons, and consumer interests, including privacy, are also part of the CSR agenda. The promotion of social and environmental responsibility through the supply-chain, and the disclosure of non-financial information, are recognised as important cross-cutting issues.

As we mentioned, there has been a number of high-level declarations of principle related to social responsibility (SR) and, on the other, there are many individual SR programmes and initiatives. The challenge is how to put the principles into practice and how to implement social responsibility effectively and efficiently when even the understanding of what “social responsibility” means may vary from one programme to another. In addition, previous initiatives have tended to focus on “corporate social responsibility”, while ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility provides social responsibility guidance not only for business organizations, but also for public sector organizations of all types. It is intended for use by organization of all types, in both public

and private sectors, in developed and developing countries, as well as in economies in transition. ISO 26000 contains voluntary guidance, not requirements, and therefore is not for use as a certification standard like ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004. [21]

The development of CSR should be led by enterprises themselves.

Public authorities should play a supporting role through a smart mix of voluntary policy measures and, where necessary, complementary regulation, for example to promote transparency, create market incentives for responsible business conduct, and ensure corporate accountability.

Enterprises must be given the flexibility to innovate and to develop an approach to CSR that is appropriate to their circumstances. CSR is applicable to all enterprises.