How government CSR departments deliver on sustainability?

Government CSR & Sustainable Development
International governments have started implementing the principle of corporate social responsibility (CSR) into policies and strategies affecting all sectors of society, ensuring that both public and private sectors adopt practices and methodologies demonstrating a sense of responsibility. Towards society, the environment, and the economy. Such an inclusive approach by governments, which includes the principles of the triple bottom line  has the greatest probability of success, in that it is integrated throughout all government departments. Research has shown that CSR has the greatest chance of working when it has become embedded into the culture in which it has been implemented (see the example of Denmark, where CSR has become an essential part of the welfare culture).

MoL driven CSR
For example, in countries like Finland, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and the Netherlands, the Ministry of Labour is the key initiator and driver of national CSR. As such, this approach opens the path to CSR becoming effective as it becomes translated into legal measures and, consequently, as it is implemented across all ministries in cooperation with their Ministries of Labour. To mainstream CSR within all departments, governments have adopted legislation and action plans, especially in relation to their commitment towards the environment.

Governments usually adopt a two-pronged approach in terms of CSR:
Firstly, they commit to respecting the triple bottom line throughout their operations;
Secondly, as a corollary to cross-sector CSR implementation, they request their suppliers and partners to commit to ethical principles and to report regularly to as to how they are meeting CSR-related targets.

Good practice in terms of implementation would mean that governments export CSR principles. This export would take two forms: One, the government introduces the principle of CSR to other countries (for example, the partnership between Germany and Turkey); two, the government publicizes its adoption of CSR to give national companies a competitive advantage on the global market (Canada). The successful implementation of CSR can ultimately be used to promote companies abroad, as well as to encourage and promote the adoption of CSR as indicating the excellence achieved by companies, both at home and abroad.

Success depends on enhancing awareness amongst customers and citizens. This is why governments in countries such as Germany are focusing their attention on educating customers on how to be responsible consumers and on how they can practice CSR in the choices they make.

Effective CSR results from a clear overarching strategy towards sustainable development, and towards transparent and accountable decision-making systems.

Funding and training
Governments can also play a role in exporting CSR-related ideas abroad through funding and training (for example, the partnership between Germany and Kuwait), as they focus on countries where CSR has yet to become a broadly adopted practice.

Governments can promote CSR through the organisation of awards for companies which demonstrate that they have the best CSR-related policies and programmes (Germany).

Governments, through the implementation of CSR, can play a role in encouraging skills and knowledge transfers from expats and local workers to the local population, with the ultimate goal of improving future career prospects, vocational and cross-cultural skills, and organising projects (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding).

Green government
Initiatives related to green government can also be promoted through recycling and through water and air stewardship. Governments can also implement green procurement strategies, which mean that they take environmental concerns into consideration when tendering for goods and services. Public procurement can also promote ethical social principles, which can then be embedded in procurement contracts.  (Canada, Denmark, and the United Kingdom).

The principles of equal opportunity, of preserving safety and health, of non-discrimination, and of paying a minimum wage can also form part of government CSR strategy. For example, governments can decide to break contracts with suppliers that refuse to pay the minimum wage to their employees or that fail to commit to reducing their carbon footprint.

(1) Government CSR = fully addressing society, the environment, and the economy (or people, planet, and profit/benefit)

Article: Government CSR & Sustainable Development

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