As the world economy and circulation of information globalizes and consumer awareness evolves, public understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is growing, as is interest in expanding its scope.
Corporate social responsibility is a sprawling term that encompasses economic, environmental, and social aspects of corporate activities that are aimed at ensuring that companies behave within the spirit and the letter of the law, both at home and in their overseas markets. Exercising CSR is a win-win practice - while enhancing corporate values, it would also boost competitiveness.
Nippon Keidanren has long promoted CSR as an important component of corporate activities to its member industrial associations and companies. Keidanren will keep pace with the newly-expanded scope of CSR.
Keidanren's Council for Better Corporate Citizenship (CBCC) has been studying CSR since 1989. During a December 2003 survey mission (called the "Dialogue Mission on Corporate Social Responsibility") to the US and Europe, a CBCC delegation learned that American and European companies not only seek to minimize any negative impact their corporate activities through improving corporate governance, corporate ethics, and compliance, but also to make each company's sustainable social contributions without seeking creation of government control nor international standards.
Nippon Keidanren believes that socially responsible management and communication work best when companies pursue their own corporate strategies and priorities. CSR guidelines should be voluntary -- legal requirements or across-the-board standardization is not a solution.
Keidanren's thrice-updated 1991 Charter for Corporate Behavior can be found at http://www.keidanren.or.jp/english/policy/cgcb.html. In 2002, Keidanren went one step further by asking its member associations and companies to promote ethical corporate conduct within their own corporations by writing or strengthening their own charter or codes of conduct. In a follow-on survey, it was found that many responded to Keidanren's request by establishing their own promotional system and implementing educational programs.
To follow up the Charter revision and to ask its member companies to further the outreach, Nippon Keidanren designated October as "Corporate Ethics Promotion Month" during which its member companies are asked to thoroughly review their undertakings and to further promote education and training programs.
The ten principles of the Keidanren Charter address the key issues and relationships that affect most CSR stakeholders - consumers and users, employees, environment, the market, overseas undertakings, shareholders, and social philanthropy. Nippon Keidanren will revise the Charter and Guidelines from global CSR perspectives. Upon approval, the revised Charter will be presented to companies as a comprehensive guideline for CSR.
Social responsibility is a matter of concern for all components of society and not necessarily limited to corporate behavior. Indeed, to be a powerful catalyst for change, all sectors of society, including administrations and NGOs, should consider social responsibility as part of their mission.