Corporate social responsibility and human rights initiatives
Corporate social responsibility and human rights initiatives

The following Corporate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Corporate social responsibility and human rights initiatives
  • Defining corporate social responsibility
  • Drivers for CSR
  • CSR in the UK
  • European initiatives
  • International CSR
  • Investor group guidance
  • Measuring CSR
  • Developing a strategy
  • CSR and human rights reporting
  • more

Defining corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate responsibility or corporate citizenship is a business management or governance concept whereby an organisation aims to create a positive impact, through its commercial activities, on its environment, consumers, employees, and other stakeholders.

CSR was defined by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in its paper, Good for Business & Society: Government Response to Call for Views on Corporate Responsibility (April 2014) (BIS Report) (which followed up on its Call for Views on Corporate Responsibility in June 2013) as:

'…the voluntary action businesses take over and above legal requirements to manage and enhance economic, environmental and societal impacts. It is about being a responsible business and as a part of an integrated and strategic approach creates shared value for business and society.'

CSR has its roots in the philanthropic business models of the nineteenth century, where certain corporate entities began to consider the impact of their profit-orientated goals on their workers and the wider community. It was then, and is to some extent now, a voluntary aspect of corporate governance.

However, today businesses ignore CSR considerations at their peril. Society, the media, customers, employees and investors now increasingly weigh up the measurable and comparable aspects of CSR when judging a business or a board of directors.

In the BIS Report, one