WHAT IS THE GOAL OF A NATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR CSR?
The goal of a national strategy for CSR, as pre-determined by the European Commission, is for it to function as a vehicle towards the meaningful implementation of a comprehensive policy for the consolidation of responsible entrepreneurship in the national economy. However, a necessary prerequisite is the understanding on the part of all stakeholders (businesses, employees, consumers, corporate bodies, local communities, non-governmental organizations, the state etc.) of the role that each one of them plays for the achievement of this goal. Therefore, collaboration with stakeholders, focus on meaningful issues and the adoption of solutions that create value for everyone, are decisive factors for the success of the national strategy for CSR.
INITIATIVES THAT THE STATE HAS UNDERTAKEN
In Autumn of 2013, a Ministerial Decision helped to establish the will of the Greek state to develop and implement a National Strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility, according to the strategy of the European Commission for CSR (2011-2014), but also based on models that had already been adopted on a European and international scale in this sector.
For this purpose, a labour committee was formed, where CSR HELLAS and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) Council for Sustainable Development participated as representatives of the corporate community, with the coordination of the General Secretariat of Commerce of the Ministry of Development and Competition.
THE CONSULTATION PROCESS WITH CORPORATIONS
The labor committee formulated a National Action Plan for CSR, which was put to public deliberation at the end of July 2014, through the relevant webpage of the Greek government, and remained open for comments for the following 2 months. During that period we took responsibility, with the SEV Council for Sustainable Development, for the actualization of the consultation process. The latter consisted of 4 round table meetings, in which 60 corporate members of CSR HELLAS, Global Compact Network Hellas and the SEV Council participated, amongst whom were some of the biggest corporations and largest corporate organizations of the country, offering comprehensive views and practical proposals.
THE CONSULTATION PROCESS WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
The consultation was brought to a close with the implementation of a seminar that the General Secretariat of Commerce of the Ministry of Development and Competition organized on 16 September 2014 at Megaro Karantza of the National Bank of Greece. During the seminar, bodies, businesses, academics and civil society representatives expressed their opinions on the topic, while the Commission then ended the project by incorporating the conclusions into a final version of the Plan. However, until today, the nation has not proceeded with the necessary actions for the National Action Plan for CSR to gain official status in legal terms.
THE MAIN CONCLUSIONS OF THE CONSULTATION
The main conclusions that we developed and noted during the consultation process can be summarized in the following points:
• The adoption of a National Strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) –in our country as well- is a particularly important and positive step
• The vision for a National Strategy, as it is mentioned in the plan, clarifies and underlines correctly the necessity that the nation contributes so that businesses and citizens can act together in a developmental process that is based on equal economic enlargement, the protection of the natural environment and social cohesion (triple bottom line)
• The “cooperative approach” on which the initial planning was based and which is viewed as a prerequisite for the implementation of the National Strategy is a catalytic factor for the new, modern development model that is described in the plan
• Therefore, the plan is a statement of self-commitment on behalf of the state for the promotion – in Greece as well – of a new, modern developmental model with a cooperative approach, and would have to set concrete goals and measures for achieving it
• In this framework, the utilization of pre-existing knowledge and experience that derives from the European and international environment, but primarily from those Greek businesses that have been leaders in the incorporation of CSR principles and practices into their operations, in the direction of sustainable development, ought to be one of the key measures for implementing the plan
• The adoption and clarification of the most recent definition of the concept of CSR according to the reviewed European Strategy 2011-2014 is vital in order to justify its “voluntary nature” for businesses, but also the meaning of adjusting this business strategy depending on the nature, breadth and sector of activity of each business. Given that CSR considers compliance with the existing institutional framework to be a prerequisite, a more concrete definition will be determined by how each business (or organization) can contribute to the confrontation of social and environmental issues, beyond its compliance obligations. With this purpose in mind, each business is called to assess the issues that are most meaningful for itself and that should take priority, and therefore assume relevant initiatives. There is no “one size fits all” model. The maturity of businesses as well as of all others involved is a crucial prerequisite of the implementation of CSR.
• The promotion and explanation of the meaning of CSR for businesses as a voluntary commitment for confronting social and environmental issues is crucial and practically necessary, and will need to be interpreted in opposition to the role and responsibility of the state, whose operations should also provide a model.
• The above ideas were also submitted on an electronic platform of public consultation (www.opengov.gr), in order to contribute positively to the project of the team that has undertaken the completion of the plan.