Sustainable Business Development and Strategic CSR
Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Responsibility and similar terms all revolve around the same issues of how companies can maximise positive contributions to society, while minimising negative social and environmental impacts and sustain economic growth at the same time. Whereas sustainable business development can be seen as an overall term for the different approaches to develop a business with respect for both social, environmental and economic issues, strategic CSR is defined as aligning CSR activities with strategic considerations in the company. The SUSBIZ concept encompasses both terms.
Strategic management and CSR
Within the SUSBIZ concept, considerations of CSR and business performance are integrated parts of proactive and strategic management. Hence, strategic CSR is much more than a reactive approach to outside pressure aimed at minimising risk for negative publicity. The approach acknowledges that social, environmental and economic issues are interrelated, and that businesses therefore must address all three in order to ensure long-term success.
A basic minimum standard in core business activities
First of all this means that the SUSBIZ concept is predominantly about ethical management of core business activities. The objective is first to ensure an ethical minimum standard within areas such as human resources, environmental impacts and business integrity – both within the company in question and within the company’s sphere of influence, e.g. supply chain, subsidiaries and franchises. The minimum standard relates to national and international frameworks and principles such as national law, ILO conventions and the UN Global Compact.
Once a minimum standard is assured, the focus is turned to addressing issues that involve strategic benefits in the unique context of the individual company. E.g. companies with a relatively large consumption of raw material and energy may reduce costs – as well as decrease negative impacts on the environment – by optimising resource utilisation. An extra high standard within human resource management will attract and retain labour, benefitting companies operating in an environment of scarce supply of qualified human resources. Likewise, a safe and healthy workplace promotes a fit and motivated workforce performing at an optimal level. And on the global scale, a high standard within CSR is increasingly becoming a necessity for market penetration and retention, providing a competitive edge to global companies skilled at managing and communicating their CSR performance.