Three questions to Minister for Trade Ewa Björling on corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has emerged as an important global issue. More and more companies have realised the importance of taking social responsibility at workplaces with regard to the environment and business climate. As consumers become increasingly aware and make higher demands, providing employees with good working conditions is also a sales argument. It becomes a situation where everyone wins – companies create good will, employees get reasonable working conditions and consumers gain access to products and services that are produced in an ethical manner. CSR is a method for companies to win market shares and increase their profits through the good will that work with CSR creates. Of course companies often make use of this in their marketing.
Why is the Swedish Presidency of the EU arranging an EU conference on corporate social responsibility?
The EU is the largest economy in the world. There are 20 million companies in the EU’s 27 Member States, many with a global market and with a significant portion of their production abroad. The EU is an important actor in driving this work forward – both in the Member States and in the countries where the companies operate.
What can companies do and what responsibility do governments have to promote CSR?
It is important to remember that CSR is something that is primarily to be promoted and owned by companies themselves. ‘Voluntary basis’ is a key concept. We representatives of the state would like to see that companies take responsibility to ensure that human rights are respected, that working conditions are reasonable, that sustainable thinking is used with regard to the environment and that they do not become involved in corruption. What states and governments can do is to create global and national rules and frameworks for taking responsibility and to spread knowledge of the rights and obligations that exist in the labour market. States can support and encourage CSR. Together, states and companies can develop and spread good examples of measures for implementing CSR.