CSR: Transparency and correct analysis

CSR: Transparency and correct analysis

«The crisis has made it more pressing for trade unions to get involved in corporate processes to organise work and the corporate governance»

José Carlos González Lorente, Director of CSR-SRI-Sustainnability CCOO

The crisis has made the need for transparency and information more pressing but has in particular underlined the need for precise and objective analysis of that information. The terms «transparency»«sustainability» and «responsibility» come up continuously. We believe that CSR might represent a means for consensus around those terms, which are so often lacking of a clear meaning.

We will have access to more information, both compulsory and voluntary: transparency laws, sustainability economy, new European Directives, climate change and environment-related sustainability processes (Rio+20).

IWe insist on the close relationship between sustainable economies and CSRCSR is defined as the corporate contribution to sustainability. CSR reports are basically Sustainability Reports. Sustainability includes issues like employment creation, management and adaptation to change – which are of vital importance to manage non-traumatic readjustment, through social dialogue, in particular in the face of the obvious need for a new financial and productive model – equality and fiscal corporate responsibility.

We defined CSR at our 3rd Congress as compulsory accountability versus an overly voluntary approach. The crisis has reaffirmed this vision, which has somehow been reflected in the last EU CommunicationCompanies will be assessed on the basis of their social responsibility, regardless of their voluntary commitments.

CSR assessments within our approach will greatly take into account wage restraint, benefit redistribution, employment creation and working hours. In this light, TRANSPARENCY AND FAIRNESS is critical.

Spain has a National Council for CSR, and we are members, which has developed widely supported documents, among which we can single out one produced by the Transparency Group where we have focused our efforts. This report focuses on areas and sub areas where public and private corporations should provide information. It all revolves around accountability, reporting and thoroughness.

We are discussing the analysis of the corporate information (financial and non financial which tends to merge) and the monitoring of compliance with the law and collective agreements. It is worth noting that the recent EU Communication underlines this idea: CSR is about corporate impacts on society and the environment and must be rooted in compliance with the law and collective agreements.

The crisis has made it more pressing for trade unions to get involved in corporate processes to organise work and the corporate governance as well as in monitoring regulation and enforcement bodies, both private and public. The conflict of interests among political, media, economy and consulting groups has been made apparent.

The crisis reaffirms employee´s rights, through their legal representatives, to delve into «what we sell and how we sell it»CSR provides a complementary tool that enhances the possibility for employees to defend their rights in the event of breaches that may occur as a result of increasing commercial pressures.

The inclusion of social, environment and governance criteria both in the supply and investment chains, in the short and long term, (systemic risks) prove once again essential to manage risks.

These criteria and socio-political dimension of our union action must be present in all areas of our activity, including in shareholder activism, which becomes increasingly critical and in the new CSR frameworks of extended social dialogue.

At the international level, new opportunities emerge to ensure compliance with ILO standards becomes a «licence to operate»; both in commercial transactions, investment and supply chain assessment treaties and criteria, it is critical to continue our involvement in initiatives like ISO26000 or the OECD Guidelines.

We have heard that given that the banking sector embraced CSR and yet have demonstrated irresponsibility, CSR is worthless. This is a mistake: the CSR they were embracing was flawed. It is misguided to leave CSR in the hands of those who mishandled CSR.

COMFIA-CCOO is a Federation of the banking and administrative sectors within CCOO (the main Trade Unions in Spain). With well over 1000 000 members, it represents all employees in these sectors, which is of relevance when discussing stakeholder «representativeness» in CSR.

CCOO (Services Federatión) vision is CSR processes of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC – Itud). Recently, Sharan Burrow has written an article describing the union position on current CSR processes . See you here

Trad. Juan Royo (Thanks!)

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