A decade ago corporate social responsibility was associated all over the world and in Poland mainly with charity campaigns. Currently, CSR is an element of the modern and strategic management of the company, and no serious enterprise can now function without it.

Corporate social responsibility means, according to the definition provided by the European Commission: “responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”. This concept assumes analysing the influence of the company’s operation in a given region for particular groups of people. The impact of a large organization over its surrounding is multidimensional. A company whose attitude is characterised as corporate social responsibility cares not only for its financial profit but for all of its stakeholders, that is the groups or individuals which it directly or indirectly impacts. The basic group for whom the company’s activities have key influence are undoubtedly its employees, and in that regard the company may take care of its working conditions or, in a broader sense – corporate governance. Other stakeholders of the company can include, depending on the sector, such groups as: customers, suppliers, distributors, investors or the local community, which is aware that a certain enterprise functions in the region. An important part of the CSR concept is also connected with the impact of a company on the natural environment.

Growth of CSR in Poland

Increasing the awareness of the employees results in the fact that more employers decide to create a dialogue with the employed, show care for safety at work, care for human rights and begins to discern the meaning of variety at work.

CSR trends

In recent years the idea of corporate social responsibility has been widely recognized among management practitioners and theoreticians all over the world. In Poland CSR, as a concept in company management, is just developing. “Due to the attitude to CSR we can distinguish three types of companies. There are those who present a strategic attitude towards CSR. For them corporate social responsibility is the heart of the organization. We also have enterprises who are encouraged to employ CSR, or you could say that they are testing the concept. They implement certain principles of the concept but CSR does not permeate all structures of the company. And there are organizations who act responsibly towards the society and the environment but they do not call their actions CSR,” says Agnieszka Siarkiewicz, coordinator of media and promotion from the Responsible Business Forum. What are the most frequent currently used forms and variants of CSR actions chosen by the big market players? “According to practices submitted to the report entitled ‘Responsible Business in Poland. Best Practices’ – Responsible Business Forum, most actions concern social commitment and development of local communities (including charity and philanthropy, educational campaigns, supporting local cultural or sports events). Other groups of good practices, the most numerous in the Report, are the actions aimed at employees (such as: safety of the work place, dialogue with employees, supporting professional development) and the environment (among others: biodiversity, environmental education and running an eco-office),” Agnieszka Siarkiewicz adds.

For CSR actions to bring real effects, they should be adjusted to the enterprise’s profile and selected in such a manner as to respond to actual needs, previously diagnosed in all interested parties.

What does it mean for the employees

As we can learn from the publication of the Responsible Business Forum titled “CSR trends”, the year 2013 brought about the confirmation that there is a steady increase in demand for responsibility on the part of various groups of stakeholders. The first one consists of employees who start expecting from companies something more than just decent wages. “Employees expect standards” – as the report on quantitative studies, conducted by ICAN Institute, Crido Taxand and Employers of Poland indicated – 92% of respondents from Polish companies expect taking actions aimed at increasing the ethical culture of the organization from the managers. Not fully using worktime by the employees and, on the other hand, not fully taking advantage of the employees’ potential are the most common problems in companies from the ethical standpoint, noticed by the respondents (41% and 37% answers, respectively). Increasing the awareness of the employees results in the fact that more employers decide to start a dialogue with the employed, show care for safety at work, care for human rights and begin to discern the meaning of variety at work. Equally important is nowadays the care about employees’ health and making it possible for them to balance their professional and family life.

For CSR actions to bring real effects, they should be adjusted to the enterprise’s profile and selected in such a manner as to respond to actual needs, previously diagnosed in all interested parties. Then the employer can have the opportunity to build his competitive market advantage based on cooperation and the favourable attitude of his surrounding.

 

Text: Beata Pałac