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Ethical Standards in Business

The recent global economic chaos affects, among others, confidence in the business world. Globalization and quick development of various types of media (as example rapidly growing social networking websites) which accelerate the flow of information are contributing factors in the growing importance of business social responsibility. All stakeholders became conscious of this and expect companies to provide information about activities in the CSR field.

In each field of science - also in business social responsibility - much has changed since the beginning of this new field of science (the 70s - the first time CSR was mentioned). Previously CSR alluded in relations with the communities neighbouring the organization to the acts of charity or philanthropic activities. New approach and trends indicate greater attention to human rights, the use of fair market practices, environmental protection, consumer rights, the proper recruitment practices, defence anti-corruption. At the end of 2010 International Standard providing guidelines for social responsibility (SR) named ISO 26000 appeared to organize and standardize the approach to CRS issues. Those who get through this guide probably can confirm that this is an extensive knowledge and a huge range of requirements.

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At the international market there are much more structured standards which are called ethical or social. Although the scope of these standards covers an area slightly narrower than ISO 26000 it fully matches the subject of CSR. No doubt that the Companies that meet the requirements of these standards could be described as socially responsible. As many standards relate with social responsibility issues as many different types of organizations for the promotion of CSR we have.

If the company is guided by the following rules just a small step left to define itself as a socially responsible organization. Therefore CSR is a very broad subject which should constitute a long term strategy in organizations as it can lead to increased profitability in the long run. You can not identify your company as a socially responsible organization and stay only with support or participate in the occasional charity events and actions. It is possible that at the same time such an organization may use abusive clauses in contracts with consumers, it can be not paying its contractors on time, breaking work standards of its employees or not properly manage the generated waste, which then contaminate the environment. These examples should never appear in organizations identifying themselves as socially responsible.
It is worth mentioning the main principles of corporate social responsibility:

  • responsibility for its decisions and activities
  • transparency of decision-making process
  • ethical behaviours
  • respect the expectations of stakeholders
  • respect for local law
  • respect for international norms and behaviours
  • support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights
  • eliminate of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation
  • support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
  • balancing shareholder interests against the interests of the wider community
  • being a good citizen in the community
Similar to other systems such as quality management there must be in the organization aims specified to achieve in the area of corporate social responsibility. Both kinds of priorities and objectives - short and long-term. Periodic verification of the achievement of established objectives and analysis of activities taken should be transparent and accessible to all stakeholders in the organization. The company should inform its stakeholders and the surrounding market about actions related with responsible business. This attitude makes it easier to follow company's CSR in the right direction under the influence of feedback from the market as a response to information about the CSR actions in the company.

On our website we would like to present ethical standards, audit practices and share knowledge on good practices in companies. Following the standards such as BSCI, ETI Base Code, ICS, WCA you can find already, there will be standards' review: applied in the clothing industry (WRAP) or, for example in the electronics industry (EICC) presented. We hope that companies - market leaders - having their own codes of business conduct will also share on our website their knowledge and experiences. All these ethical standards mentioned here is great start for works on introduction the full CSR in your organization. We believe that it is always worth talking and promoting the principles of ethical conduct in business because it can encourage others to define the principles of business ethics and CSR and make an effort to implement those principles.

Arguments for socially-responsible behaviour:
  • It is the ethical thing to do
  • It improves the company's public image
  • Socially responsible actions can be profitable
  • Improved social environment will be beneficial to the company
  • It will be attractive to investors
  • It can increase employee motivation and loyalty
  • It helps to corrects social problems caused by business

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