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From Rail Card to Organic Coffee: CSR in practice

From Rail Card to Organic Coffee: CSR in practice

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Published by TOPdesk

Mention ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and the first thing anyone thinks about is the environment: saving energy, fuel efficiency and walking or taking public transport to work. Yet CSR is much broader, as two experts in the areas of IT and Facilities explain.

Mention ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and the first thing anyone thinks about is the environment: saving energy, fuel efficiency and walking or taking public transport to work. Yet CSR is much broader, as two experts in the areas of IT and Facilities explain.

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Published by: TOPdesk on Feb 12, 2013
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Mention ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and the
rst thing anyone thinks about is the environment:saving energy, fuel efciency and walking or takingpublic transport to work. Yet CSR is much broader, astwo experts in the areas of IT and Facilities explain.
An increasing number of organizations are hearing that,when compiling a tender, theyneed to meet a number of requirements with regard toCorporate Social Responsibility,or CSR. Yet it isn’t always clearwhat exactly is being asked of  you or how you can best respond.The CEO at our company cycles toand from work each day – is thatCSR? And organic food is servedin the canteen. We also re-use theheat from our server room to heatother rooms. Is that considered
People, Planet, Proft
Many people have no real idea asto what CSR actually entails. “Yousee that everyone is looking foranswers,” tells Mechtild Kuijpers,Sustainability Manager at Centric.“People are trying to find outwhat CSR exactly involves andhow your company can give it itsown personal stamp.”Yet this lack of clarity is notsurprising. The CSR concept is sobroad that you can interpret it inall sorts of ways. The guidelinesdrawn up by the Organisationfor Economic Co-operation andDevelopment (OECD) mention noless than nine themes on whichcompanies can focus. Theserange from human rights and theenvironment, to technology andconsumer interests. In summary
CSR in practice
CSR involves: conducting businesswith thought for Profit (economy),Planet (environment) and People(individuals within and outside of the organization).
Performance laddersand USPs
Where does this attentionfor CSR stem from? In theNetherlands, one reason forthe increasing awareness of CSR is due to an initiative of ProRail, the government taskorganization that looks afterthe maintenance of the railwaynetwork infrastructure. Several years ago, ProRail establishedthe CO2 performance ladderto stimulate suppliers tooperate more sustainably, bothin the area of production andoperational management.Those organizations that candemonstrably lower their CO2emissions have a better chanceof getting the contract or tender.“Following this, a chain reactionof sorts began to occur,” tellsMechtild. “Companies withconnections to ProRail beganoperating an identical systemfor their own suppliers. Andtheir suppliers then did so fortheir suppliers. Consequently,the demand for CSR has beenincreasing considerably sinceautumn 2009.The economic crisis also broughtCSR to the attention of many.Maybrit Admiraal, who has visitedmany different organizationsin her work at Humanagement,has also noticed this. “In thisdifficult market, organizationsare looking for new UniqueSelling Propositions, or USPs.They’re looking for that certainsomething with which theycan distinguish themselvesfrom other organizations. Thisis possible with CSR, and thishas since caught on at manycompanies.”“In addition, the growingawareness of social involvementis most likely a response toindividualization and the short-term thinking of society. Thisis generally seen as the causeof the crisis of two years ago,and individuals were in needof a different outlook on life –one that was more geared tosustainability in the long term,”tells Mechtild. “The crisis has gotpeople thinking. Organizationswere forced to review theiroperational management and togo looking for new, sustainablesolutions.”
Practical approach
Certainly remarkable is the factthat most company initiatives aremodest by nature. For example,establishing a bike plan foremployees, using organic coffee inthe coffee machine or asking theboss to sponsor a project you’redoing for charity.This small-scale approach is good,finds the OECD. In the OECD codeof conduct, companies are advisednot to bite off more than they canchew and are better off beginningwith one or two guidelines thantrying to change the policy onall points.Maybrit also thinks that a
practical approach is the only
one that works. “It is importantnot to view CSR as too black andwhite. There is no use in suddenlyforcing all employees to begindriving in an energy-efficientcompany car. Instead, it is betterthat you make available companycars and public transport passes.Employees can then maketheir own choices, but you doencourage them to leave the carbehind at home every so often.”
Get them thinking
It’s not about large-scale projectsdirected by the management;indeed, CSR initiatives generallycome from the employeesthemselves. “The responsibilityto offer an interpretation toCSR should not lie with onedepartment,” finds Maybrit. “Itshould be a component of integralmanagement – you have to getemployees thinking in terms of CSR. However, the managementshould certainly set an example.It’s difficult to encourage youremployees to cycle to work everyday when you’re flying betweencities every week.”But how do you get employeesto start thinking about CSR?Mechtild does this by organizinga ‘roadshow’ at her company. “Ivisit various departments in orderto create internal realization of CSR because I want to ensure thatthere is more discussion on the
Mechtild Kuijpers, Centric

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