Corporate Social Responsibility
The Netherlands and India
“The mind-set of entrepreneurs has changed radically in the last century... More and more, exercising social responsibility is in the genes of CEOs, of multinationals, as well as owners of smaller companies. That provides scope for broad, fruitful, and close partnerships, in which the interests of our businesses and of society at large converge.”
- Ms. Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation,
The Hague, 6 March 2014
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s sense of responsibility toward the community and the environment, which entails both ecological and social duty. CSR and Sustainable Business go much further than solely a solid façade. The Dutch Government expects businesses to know what goes on in their value chains. The government wants this, to ensure that human rights are upheld throughout the production process and to take action when things go wrong. It’s about knowing and showing; knowing where the risks are and showing how you minimize them. CSR pays off. For businesses and for society as a whole.
The Netherland and India have a unique opportunity in the field of sustainability and CSR. This is due to the fact that the two countries have a bilateral Memorandum of understanding on CSR and Corporate Governance. With respect to CSR, however, the Dutch tend to focus more on the broader supply chain, the so-called “do no harm – do good” philosophy. Due diligence: a key in the sustainability-equation. This term encompasses all risks involved: not just direct financial risks for the company itself. Due diligence means more than just avoiding risks to one’s own image and profits, it involves taking the consequences for society into account. It’s about fairness in business. This is a key area in which information can be exchanged to push forward understanding.
As H.E. Ambassador Stoelinga rightfully stated during the forum ‘Due diligence is closely connected to corporate social responsibility, a concept that a lot of Dutch companies have been familiar with for some time.’ This knowledge and their experiences should now also be shared.
The Netherlands endorses the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and encourages Dutch companies to operate in accordance to these guidelines. To aid in the exchange of best practices in India, the Indus Forum was drafted. This platform is the first of its kind for convening relevant stakeholders to discuss the different human rights and sustainability linked issues between Indian and Dutch businesses. The stakeholders included are comprised of suppliers, subsidiaries, and partners of Dutch businesses in India, along with their counterparts; Indian businesses in the Netherlands. Furthermore, academics and think-tanks alike were welcomed to be part of this initiative and share their thoughts.
Best practices and the difficulties which are commonly found in sustainably running a business lead to a lively discussion amongst the panel and the participants that were present. Some of the barriers which were identified included engaging communities and NGOs, translating policy into practice on the ground, and the limited awareness of sustainability in tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers. This will enable the forum to combat all forms of sustainability practices relating to supply-chain management.
The strength and practicality of the first Indus Forum was highlighted by the participants (including Tata Steel, DSM, Akzo Nobel, Ecorys, Rabobank, Bayer, KPMG, HCL and others) that were present and the ensuing panel discussion. Additionally, participants were also enthusiastic that such a platform was finally being operationalized. They expressed their thoughts about the need for such a platform and welcomed further participation and discussion. Moreover, the Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME) also proposed to bring their strong network of 743 small industrial associations for the forum and bringing communication links through the Knowledge News Network (KNN) of FISME for greater outreach for the Forum. In this way, the forum will act to include all ranges of business.
The businesses and stakeholders also hold a common view for the forum to focus on issues relating to supply chain, labor, environment and strategic NGO‐business partnerships. In this way, the forum will function much as a B2B platform where businesses will continually be able to learn from each other. Looking ahead, the aim is to develop the Indus Forum into a platform that will meet on a regular basis; to develop the Indus Forum as a platform where best practices can continually be exchanged.
Organizational Partner – CRB
CRB’s motto, ‘Enabling Change for Impact’, aims at holistic empowerment and unbiased analysis of any situation.
Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is an independent not-for-profit non-governmental organization based out of New Delhi, India. CRB has partnered and undertaken human rights and sustainability related work with global brands and retailers and Indian companies such as M&S, H&M, Walmart, TESCO, S.Oliver, Carrefour, Mahindra & Mahindra, sectoral industry associations, and governments, and in the process worked with over 350 SME supplier factories, over 1,000 middle management representatives and reached out to over 250,000 workers in garment and footwear industries since 2010.
India and Sustainability Standards
- Event organized by CRB to create awareness on Sustainability
- H.E. Ambassador Stoelinga will be present as a guest speaker
16 - 19
Indo - Dutch CSR and Sustainability Forum (INDUS Forum)
National Consultation meeting
(exact date will follow)