CSR Review of Progress and Focus on the Future

I recently attended the CSR Europe Enterprise 2020 Summit in Brussels, Belgium, and participated as a panelist in a two-hour session on responsible supply chains. CSR Europe is a platform reaching out to more than 10,000 companies in Europe, with the mission to connect companies to share best practices on CSR and innovate with peers to shape the business and political agenda on sustainability and competitiveness. Below are three developments:

EU Legislation
During the session on Responsible Sourcing, there was clear emphasis on the priority given to the establishment of responsible supply chains across Europe. In 2014, EU legislators adopted Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial reporting that will apply to approximately 6000 companies across the EU. Under the Directive, ‘… public-interest entities (listed companies, banks, insurance undertakings and other companies that are so designated by Member States) with more than 500 employees should disclose in their management report relevant and useful information on their policies, main risks and outcomes relating to at least

  • environmental matters,
  • social and employee aspects,
  • respect for human rights,
  • anticorruption and bribery issues, and
  • diversity in their board of directors.’*

Member States have until December 2016 to integrate the new rules into their respective national legislation, after which they become applicable. A speaker from the European Commission (EC), Pedro Ortun, Principal Advisor for CSR (DG GROW), mentioned that to date only 1000 companies in Europe have started to integrate CSR and reporting into their practices.

ISO  20400
We have also heard that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is developing a standard on sustainable procurement which will be submitted for public consultation in the coming weeks, and is scheduled for adoption in May 2016. Jacques Schramm, the chairperson of ISO technical committee drafting the standard, stressed that ISO 20400 will be a guidance document, rather than a standard leading to certification. The aim is to provide guidelines on sustainable procurement that can be applied by both private and public operations at different levels of maturity. The guidelines will focus on defining sustainable procurement, making the case for procuring sustainably, integrating sustainability into the organisation’s procurement policy and strategy, organizing the procurement function towards sustainability, and integrating sustainability into the procurement process.

NSF 391.1
To further stress the importance of sustainable procurement standards, including sectorial standards, I had the opportunity to present the NSF 391.1 standard – General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Professional Services – which is designed to be a sector-specific solution to sustainable procurement, with baseline and leadership performance criteria. Using an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) multi-stakeholder approach, in conjunction with government, civil society and professional services firms (including Edelman), we have been developing this triple bottom line standard for the past year, with a goal for public comment in the first quarter of 2016. I also presented NSF 391.1 at Ethical Corporation’s 10th Annual Sustainable Supply Chain Summit in London during a panel on creating shared value and generating change beyond your own supply chain.

The different discussions at this Summit highlighted the interest in and importance of developing sectorial standards, such as the NSF 391.1, as a key tool to further promote the adoption of CSR practices and process throughout supply chains. I was impressed and motivated by the amount of initiatives currently ongoing in this area in Europe. Change is happening and I’m glad Edelman is part of that journey.

John Edelman is managing director of Global Engagement and Corporate Responsibility.