European commissioners have presented a Green Paper promoting a European framework for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

On 18 July, European Commissioners Anna Diamantopoulou (Employment and Social Affairs) and Erkki Liikanen (Enterprise and Information Society) presented a Green Paper on promoting a European framework for corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is intended as a launch pad for debate, and takes up the 'triple bottom line' concept whereby companies voluntarily take on board social and environmental concerns as well as their economic ones. Announcing its publication, the Commissioners said, "More and more firms are realising the link between profitability and best ethical and environmental practice."

Recent announcements of large-scale redundancies have put the spotlight on the way firms interact with their employees in such situations, and management of change is one of the key aspects of CSR that the Green Paper discusses. It says that few restructuring operations achieve their goal of reducing costs, increasing productivity and improving quality and customer service, as they are often carried out in a way which damages the morale, creativity and productivity of employees. Responsible downsizing, the paper argues, means seeking the involvement and participation of those affected, and should include a plan to safeguard employees' rights and enable them to undergo vocational retraining.
Other areas discussed include:

  • socially responsible human resource management
  • corporate codes of conduct
  • holistic approaches to CSR
  • extending the use of ethical labelling
  • greater harmonisation of evaluation tools for socially responsible investing.
The aim of the Green Paper is to trigger debate on all aspects of CSR. The Commission invites public authorities, international organisations, businesses, NGOs, other stakeholders and all interested individuals to send their views on ways of developing a partnership approach to CSR by 31 December to: European Commission, Corporate Social Responsibility Green Paper consultation, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium.