The issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has progressively taken on a role with greater importance in strategic choices and in the development plans of companies around the world, finding its essence in the definition provided by the European Union: “company responsibility for their impact on society”.
It is an important part of a highly debated concept, particularly in the last decade, that concerns the ethical limits of the economy.
The references given by the largest global organisations, such as the United Nations and OECD, have gone beyond the demand for companies to please citizens and stakeholders for the good image this virtuously produces, and they explain that adopting working conditions in companies that respect social responsibility, a fair provision of resources, an independent control process for protecting workers and a strict respect for the environment, represents a foundation in the choice of business models and, at the same time, is a necessary condition for success.
There are many reference standards, and some of them are as follows:
- Standard SA 8000 issued by Social Accountability International (SAI) to ensure there are working conditions in the workplace that respect social responsibility;
- Standard (AA1000) (or Accountability 1000) created by the ISEA (Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability) which defines a process standard developed to assess company results within the framework of ethical and social investment and sustainable development;
- Standard ISO 26000, issued by the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility as a response to the request presented by the European Socio-Economic Classification (ESEC) regarding “measurement and information instruments on the social responsibility of companies in a globalised economy”;
In Italy too, judgments have been made with laws and sentences inspired by the legislation from our Italian constitution, whose article 41 reads: “Private economic initiative is free. It cannot be carried out with any social benefit or so as to cause harm to human safety, freedom and dignity.”
The issue regarding corporate social responsibility is also closely linked to the guidelines given to the stakeholders through the development of an integrated reporting approach (integrated sustainability accounting, assurance and reporting), namely a process that translates into a communication on the creation of value over time, through the integrated representation of a company’s provisions in terms of information, whether it be financial or of another value, and amongst these, mainly those regarding social responsibility.
RSM plays an active role in the academic initiatives that are being developed in this area and assists its clients in implementing business models that take the social responsibility principles into account and how to translate this commitment into integrated reporting.