Corporate social responsibility (CSR) aims to optimise the benefit to an enterprise’s stakeholders and to prevent or dampen the potential adverse affects of its activities. CSR therefore covers a broad spectrum of issues that must be taken into account in business conduct. This includes working conditions, human rights, the environment, preventing corruption, corporate governance, gender equality, occupational integration, consumer interests and taxes.
An enterprise’s responsibility to respect human rights relates to internationally recognised human rights, particularly those of the United Nations. Human rights due diligence enables enterprises to identify any adverse effects resulting from its activities and in its value chain in good time and to prevent or reduce them. The shape it takes in practice depends above all on the size of the enterprise and on certain risk factors such as the region and sector.
By ensuring the best possible employment conditions based on the applicable statutory provisions and international labour standards, in particular those of the International Labour Organization, enterprises can play a role in creating high-quality jobs. This primarily concerns the granting of trade union rights, the abolition of child and forced labour and the elimination of employee discrimination (e.g. based on where they come from, their social background, skin colour, religion or political views). Constructive cooperation with social partners is also an important part of this.
Responsible environmental management aims to continuously improve an enterprise’s impact on the environment. This includes a progressive internal environmental management system based on high standards, environmental due diligence, an environmentally friendly strategy with closed cycles, consistent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a contingency plan for reducing harmful effects on the environment.
Corruption has an extremely harmful effect on democratic institutions, good corporate governance, investments and international competition. Enterprises can play a key role in combating corruption by introducing internal control mechanisms to avoid and expose it. It is also important to publish the policy on combating corruption supported by the management and to train employees.
As part of a transparent reporting process, enterprises inform the public about their business activities and their effects in terms of the economy, society and the environment. The regular, timely and pertinent disclosure of information improves an enterprise’s transparency and credibility. The reporting process also gains the trust of the enterprise’s stakeholders (e.g. shareholders, financial institutions, employees and interest groups) and can facilitate access to capital.
Good corporate governance involves striving towards transparency and a balanced ratio of management and control while protecting the decision-making power and efficiency at the topmost corporate level. These are underpinned by good accounting und reporting practices, supervision by the Board of Directors and respect for shareholder rights and the concerns of key stakeholders.
For consumers, it has become increasingly difficult to compare products and services and to make informed decisions about purchases, particularly due to the increasing numbers of products on offer and the complexity of many markets. They are therefore reliant on enterprises adopting fair business and marketing practices and guaranteeing the safety and quality of their products and services. This involves providing accurate and clear product information, promoting sustainable consumption and taking customer concerns seriously.
As part of their activities, enterprises should be guided by the basic principle of gender equality in employment and, in this regard, should refrain from any discrimination towards their employees based on gender. Balancing work and family and equal pay are key corporate challenges.
By identifying its employees’ health issues early on and quickly taking the appropriate measures, enterprises can safeguard their staff's employability. This will reduce the number of people leaving the job market due to health problems as much as possible. Employees with a health problem should be supported throughout the reintegration process.
If an enterprise lawfully pays its taxes both in Switzerland and also on its overseas business transactions, it is contributing to public finances and to the development of its host countries. It also avoids putting its finances, reputation and supervision by authorities at risk. It is also important for enterprises to cooperate well with the competent authorities so that these can apply the relevant taxes.
Last modification 28.10.2020