For many businesses the term Corporate Social Responsibility is somewhat of anathema. The fact that it is now muted that every business that employs above 50 employees may be forced by European directive to set up a kind of community action scheme. In addition a percentage of its profits must be ploughed into such a scheme, as a mark of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), must call into question the whole ethos of setting up in business in the first place.
But believe it or not this is one of the ideas that are currently being branded about by certain bodies within the EU.
I was at a meeting organised by the Institute for Citizenship in Birmingham earlier this year entitled "Business: Social Leadership in Europe?" In which the question of CSR was discussed.
One of the main speakers Stephen Serpell a consultant to the DTI and head of BT Community Partnership programme seemed to view such schemes as already being a done deal for any business which practises "Good employment practise", (note the job title and BT's own somewhat ailing fiscal position). Although he did make one truism of which of course I fully agree with, that most companies within the UK see their CSR as contributing to Charities of the Boards choice rather than setting up a community scheme.
Whereas to suggest the concept of CSR to a Continental company most would probably be thinking of such bodies as the former European Business Network for Social Cohesion or CSR Europe as it is now called with a mission statement of:
"To help companies achieve profitability, sustainable growth and human progress by placing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the mainstream of business practice".
This still as yet voluntary organisation set up with the EU's full blessing operates though various networks or National partner organisations (NPOs) within the UK, Business in the Community.
"...it is another way that Brussels is trying to erode the freedoms of UK business to invest its profits as it wishes, it will prove to be yet another business tax. Which could force companies to relocate elsewhere outside of the EU hence driving up employment and creating a vicious circle."
However, if having to join with such a NPO became mandatory on medium to large businesses through European directive little or no thought was given to the impact on Charity income. Which in turn is still suffering from the impact of the National Lottery and corporate fundraising is becoming evermore important.
Such a proposed directive I would find detestable not only because it is another way that Brussels is trying to erode the freedoms of UK business to invest its profits as it wishes, it will prove to be yet another business tax. Which could force companies to relocate elsewhere outside of the EU hence driving up employment and creating a vicious circle.