Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR, a key issue

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a key issue when considering the regulation of globalisation, and has inspired many recent initiatives. The current economic crisis has only added greater weight to the debate. France’s involvement in CSR is characterised by full participation in many international negotiations, by government intervention in the form of legislation and as the initiator of multi-stakeholder momentum, and by a wealth of initiatives taken by business and social actors.

What does CSR mean for France?

A number of international standards together make up a framework for what has become a universal understanding of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility.

  • The United Nations Global Compact, launched by the UN Secretary General in 2000 asks companies to "embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption".
  • International standard ISO 26000, adopted on 13 September 2010, defines organisations’ social responsibility as their ability to "identify and accept responsibility for the impacts of their decisions and activities on society and the environment through transparent and ethical behaviour that contributes to sustainable development, including health and the welfare of society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour; and is integrated throughout the organisation and practised in its relationships".
  • The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, first formulated in 1976 and last revised in May 2011, "aim to ensure that the operations of these enterprises are in harmony with government policies, to strengthen the basis of mutual confidence between enterprises and the societies in which they operate, to help improve the foreign investment climate and to enhance the contribution to sustainable development made by multinational enterprises".
  • The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011"recognise the role of business enterprises as specialised organs of society performing specialised functions, required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights", whilst underlining the role of States in protecting those rights and the need to establish procedures to give victims access to appropriate and effective remedies.
  • The 3rd European Commission Communication on CSR of 25 October 2011, approved by the European Union, defines CSR as "the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society" and "a process to integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy (conducted) in close collaboration with their stakeholders (and coupled with) respect for applicable legislation and for collective agreements between social partners".

As a member of or participant in the activities of these organisations, France fully subscribes to these definitions and commitments.

Updated on: 01.12.12