Stricter legislation, an edict that all companies being assisted by the Dutch government must observe OECD guidelines, and a tendency for European retailers to demand high CSR standards have convinced CBI that CSR calls for a more ambitious approach. CBI’s programme manager for CSR, Bart Slob must ensure that everyone involved in CBI programmes takes CSR issues into account. “OECD guidelines are very comprehensive,” he says, “but not all of them apply to our work. Issues relating to child labour, health and safety and human rights are essential, but guidelines on taxation or bribery, for example, are less relevant.”
The collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh, which claimed more than 1,000 lives earlier this year, illustrates the importance of health and safety. “It’s an area where much progress can be made quickly and our experts are good at creating safer working conditions. Ensuring that there are open and unobstructed emergency exits is a basic issue that we must address. For this kind of thing we have a zero tolerance policy.”
CBI makes a concerted investment in CSR in all its new and recently started programmes. And once a company has been accepted in one of its programmes CBI stands by it even if its CSR progress is disappointing. “We make an initial baseline assessment, which is re-appraised after six months. Worldwide, we have more than 200 experts to help us implement CSR guidelines. We offer underperformers coaching and extra training sessions.
Our focus is not on excluding companies, but on speeding up the stragglers.” Success stories are often the small, new companies. A starting home decoration firm, for example, will be relatively straightforward, but a large industrial company will be more difficult.”
“CSR is the contribution a company makes to sustainable development and it must be linked to its core business,” insists Slob. “It can range from the environment to operating practices, and from human rights to gender issues. The latter can be particularly hard to address because in many countries men and women are not considered equal. But we can still try to get participants in our programmes to employ more women.” Where CSR is concerned, CBI intends to lead by example. Early in 2014 it expects to publish a Self-Declaration to show it has reached the ISO 26000 standard: “And we’ll be the first Dutch public organisation to do so.”> Read the full article