Putting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into practice

Several guidelines and tools are available for companies that need help putting CSR into practice.

Government stimulus for CSR

The government encourages companies in various ways to take up CSR.

  • The transparency benchmark. Each year, the government assesses 500 corporate annual reports concerning companies’ CSR activities. The company with the highest score on the transparency benchmark is awarded a prize: the Crystal.
  • The government boosts the development of sustainable products through its own sustainable procurement policy. For example, many ministries only serve organic food in their canteens.
  • The government has established a national knowledge centre and network organisation for CSR, MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands). It is the first port of call for any company wanting to make its operations more sustainable.
  • Corporate social responsibility is always on the agenda of Dutch trade missions. Companies can only join these missions if they have endorsed the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Dutch delegations raise the subject of CSR in the host country.
  • Companies that comply with the OECD Guidelines are eligible for government financial support for their international trade and investment activities.
  • The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) helps companies make their international production chains more sustainable. The IDH was set up with central government support. It aims to boost the sustainable trade in products like cocoa, cotton, tea, coffee, soya beans and electronics. Dutch companies often have difficulty recognising and dealing with problems like corruption, forced labour or pollution in their supply chain.
  • Dutch embassies advise companies on the CSR-related risks they may encounter in foreign markets.
  • The Dutch government will conduct a sector risk analysis in early 2014 to identify the sectors where problems are most likely to occur. The government will sit down with these sectors to talk about strengthening corporate social responsibility.

CSR guidelines and tools

Several guidelines and tools are available for companies that want to put CSR into practice.

  • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. These are the main CSR guidelines used in the Netherlands. They include recommendations on environmentally responsible production, anti-corruption, equal treatment of men and women, forced labour and exploitation. Companies that want to apply the Guidelines should contact the National Contact Point (NCP).
  • CSR Navigator. This tool shows companies what guidelines and codes of conduct apply to their sector.
  • ISO 26000. This standard for businesses, governments, civil society organisations and unions offers guidance on, for instance, saving energy, combating discrimination in the workplace, and giving consumers honest information. Companies can assess their performance in the light of the standard.
  • ISO 26000 CSR roadmap. NL Agency has drawn up a roadmap to help companies integrate ISO 26000 principles into their operations.
  • CSR implementation plan. An online tool provided by MVO Nederland to companies that want to implement CSR.
  • The government has published a brochure for companies on dealing with corrupt practices when doing business abroad (‘Eerlijk zakendoen, zonder corruptie’).
  • Global Compact is an international network run by the United Nations. Participating companies and organisations pledge to comply with ten principles concerning human rights, labour conditions, environmental protection and anti-corruption.
  • The Eco Management and Audit Scheme, established by the European Commission, helps companies improve their environmental management.
  • SCCM, the platform for certification of environmental and occupational health & safety (OHS) management systems, helps companies improve their policy on the internal and external environment.