Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.
A strategic approach to CSR is increasingly important to a company’s competitiveness. It can bring benefits in terms of risk management, cost savings, access to capital, customer relationships, human resource management, and innovation capacity. It also encourages more social and environmental responsibility from the corporate sector at a time when the crisis has damaged consumer confidence and the levels of trust in business.
Through CSR, enterprises can significantly contribute to the European Union’s treaty objectives of sustainable development and a highly competitive social market economy. CSR underpins the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including the 75% employment target. Responsible business conduct is especially important when private sector operators provide public services.
By addressing their social responsibility, enterprises can build long-term employee, consumer and citizen trust as a basis for sustainable business models. This in turn helps to create an environment in which enterprises can innovate and grow. The economic crisis and its social consequences have to some extent damaged levels of trust in business, and have focused public attention on the social and ethical performance of enterprises, including on issues such as bonuses and executive pay.