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Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Corporate social responsibility refers to businesses taking responsibility for their behaviour and its impact on society. This can include employment conditions and labour standards, freedom of association, well-being at work, non-discrimination and gender balance, stakeholder engagement, human rights, emissions and pollution reduction and eliminating bribery and corruption.

The European Commission's 2011-14 CSR strategy urges companies to establish processes to ‘integrate social, environmental, ethical human rights and consumer concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders’. Publication of the strategy for the 2015-20 period is due in 2015.

CSR is considered important for competitiveness and has been shown to yield benefits in terms of risk management, cost savings, access to capital, customer relationships, human resource management and innovation capacity.

A European Multi-stakeholder Forum on CSR exists to promote periodic dialogue between business, trades unions, non-governmental organisations and other groups about CSR developments and EU policy in the field. A coordination committee of the Forum meets on a more regular basis.

EU CSR strategy is built upon international guidelines and principles set out by the United Nations and International Labour Organisation, and complements the work of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and national governments.