English abstract of the draft report Eindevaluatie SER-initiatief Internationaal Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen
In its final report, the Social and Economic Council's International Corporate Social Responsibility Committee (ICSR) observes that ICSR and sustainability have been added to the agendas of many enterprises and industries in recent years. Businesses are making a real effort in this area, and ICSR is consequently functioning as a driver for new products and markets.
More product innovation
The Committee notes that a growing number of enterprises are now making a genuine effort in the domain of ICSR. Businesses and stakeholders are joining forces in all sorts of ways. With trade and industry increasingly embracing the principles of ICSR, the market is acting as a driver to boost ICSR further. ICSR – specifically the “Planet” of the Triple P approach – is leading to innovation, new products and new markets. This trend is also becoming obvious in the business-to-business (B2B) market and in the role that sustainability plays in procurement and contracting.
A greater focus on working conditions
The “People” factor is a growing point of concern internationally, for example with respect to working conditions in supply chains. Trade unions, civil society organisations and consumers are putting growing pressure on trade and industry in that regard. The social media also play a role in fostering a growing sense of international solidarity.
There are positive developments in CSR reporting. The Transparency Benchmark (which covers the 500 largest enterprises in the Netherlands) and other surveys show an improvement across the board. There is still a gap between the frontrunners and those that lag behind, however. The percentage of businesses that provide information on supply chain management in their CSR reports has also increased. The main challenge is to ensure that enterprises continue to make progress and gain knowledge in the years ahead by seeking suitable forms of verification and stakeholder engagement.
Businesses can be expected to contribute to economic, ecological and social progress with a view to achieving sustainable development. That will require them to identify abuses in the supply chain, develop policy to prevent abuses, and respond promptly and effectively to actual or potential adverse effects. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises was recently updated and have the Social and Economic Council’s recommendation. The Guidelines offer businesses a framework for tackling and preventing abuses. The OECD Guidelines are the only ICSR standards supported by governments, and the only international framework that includes a dispute resolution system.
Final assessment, 2008-2012 evaluation period
The committee has a positive impression of the progress made in the area of ICSR, in part thanks to the support of the Council’s ICSR initiative. The activities undertaken by MVO Nederland (initiated in 2004 in accordance with the Council's advisory report Corporate Social Responsibility: A Dutch Approach) were and continue to be important to enterprises.
The picture differs from one sector to the next and depending on the size of the enterprise. Some challenges naturally remain with respect to the development of ICSR and the associated reporting. For example, the relevant parties are not always familiar with the most important sources of information about the ICSR policy framework, including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In addition, it is important to continue encouraging the SME sector.
It is impossible to quantify precisely how much the Council’s ICSR Statement has contributed to all the developments in ICSR. The committee has promoted the policy philosophy among a wider audience and is positive about the effect of its efforts on politics, trade and industry, and the public. The committee is pleased to note that the Council’s institutional ICSR framework has now been incorporated into the updated OECD Guidelines and associated incentive and complaints mechanisms. The Council wholeheartedly recommends the updated OECD Guidelines and uses them as the new framework for its ICSR activities. The Council anticipates that the updated Guidelines will act as an important dynamic force in the years ahead.
The social partners will continue to promote the updated OECD Guidelines (including the ILO standards and UN Principles). The ICSR Committee wishes to continue tracking, guiding and encouraging efforts to explore and implement ICSR. Based on the lessons learned by enterprises and stakeholders, international benchmarks, statements by the Dutch National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines, etc., the committee’s aim for the years ahead is to offer theme-based reports and practical guidelines to drive implementation of the new international standards (reporting in 2013, 2014 and 2015).
This final report is a follow-up to the Statement on International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR), signed in late 2008 by the employers' federations and trade union confederations that make up the Social and Economic Council. In its Statement, the Council committed itself to international CSR, including responsible supply chain management. The social partners undertook various activities to promote implementation. The ICSR committee, chaired by Alexander Rinnooy Kan, recently evaluated the results of these initiatives.
The Social and Economic Council defines supply chain responsibility as a commitment by enterprises to exert a positive influence on the social and environmental policy of their suppliers. That commitment is voluntary, but it is not free of obligation.
The committee consists of the social partners and independent members. The chair of the Dutch National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines and the director of MVO Nederland are advisory members. The final evaluation will be discussed at the Council meeting in June 2012.
Full version of the final evaluation and translation of the updated OECD Guidelines available
You can consult the full version of the final report on the Council’s website, www.ser.nl.
In addition to the final report, the Dutch translation of the updated OECD Guidelines (2011) will also be available. These guidelines constitute the normative framework for International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR). The Guidelines also refer in detail to the relevant ILO Conventions and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Ruggie Framework”). The Council will use the updated Guidelines as the new framework for its ICSR activities.
For more information: Social and Economic Council (SER), Communication Department:
Jolanda Maas, T: +31 (0)70- 344 578, E: firstname.lastname@example.org