The European Commission has previously defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis”.
Corporate social responsibility concerns actions by companies over and above their legal obligations towards society and the environment. Certain regulatory measures create an environment more conducive to enterprises voluntarily meeting their social responsibility.
A strategic approach to CSR is increasingly important to the competitiveness of enterprises. It can bring benefits in terms of risk management, cost savings, access to capital, customer relationships, human resource management, and innovation capacity.
Because CSR requires engagement with internal and external stakeholders, it enables enterprises to better anticipate and take advantage of fast changing societal expectations and operating conditions. It can therefore drive the development of new markets and create opportunities for growth.
By addressing their social responsibility enterprises can build long-term employee, consumer and citizen trust as a basis for sustainable business models. Higher levels of trust in turn help to create an environment in which enterprises can innovate and grow.
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. Helping to mitigate the social effects of the current economic crisis, including job losses, is part of the social responsibility of enterprises. CSR offers a set of values on which to build a more cohesive society and on which to base the transition to a sustainable economic system.
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