As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today, some might say that we have little to celebrate. The significant human rights gains of the early post-Cold War years appear to be coming undone as authoritarian populists take hold in countries that once seemed firmly in the democratic fold. For all of our solemn promises to “never again” permit the perpetration of genocide and crimes against humanity,… More
Category Archives: What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: Practical Approaches to Integration
This is the final post in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
In order to integrate concrete CSR commitments into corporate compliance programs, a company must establish how each commitment translates into performance requirements for the relevant business units and departments. The nature of these requirements may differ considerably depending on a company’s industry and operating context,… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: Adopting a Principles-Based Approach to Performance
This is the seventh in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
CSR places concrete performance goals in an aspirational context: it can infuse corporate compliance requirements with a level of intrinsic motivation whereby company employees share a collective sense that the company is trying to improve its performance and act in a responsible manner.… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: Spotting Trends and Preparing for Future Requirements
This is the sixth in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
Just as integrating CSR and compliance can strengthen a company’s capacity to improve its environmental, social, and governance performance, so can CSR strengthen a company’s overall compliance efforts.
In the context of CSR,… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: How Compliance Can Strengthen CSR
This is the fourth in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
In weighing the costs and benefits of considering the integration of a company’s CSR commitments into existing compliance programs, it is important to recognize that this integration may strengthen the company’s capacity in both areas.… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: Obstacles to Effective Integration
This is the third in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
For some companies, integrating CSR commitments into the company’s overall compliance program may represent a significant shift. Corporate managers may view CSR as a set of programmatic commitments that are removed from the core business strategies of the company and there may be internal reluctance to integrate the relevant commitments into the company’s compliance systems.… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance: Building Capacity to Respond to Stakeholder Demands
This is the second in a series of posts reflecting excerpts from a chapter that I authored on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) for the Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook.
CSR is dynamic: it is responsive to standards, expectations, and contexts that are ever-shifting. To be effective, CSR requires a comprehensive approach to both standard-setting and engagement with internal and external stakeholders.… More
U.N. Guiding Principles: Reflections on the Past Five Years
This post was originally published on The Huffington Post.
Five years ago today, on June 16, 2011, the way we view the human rights responsibilities of companies changed. On that day, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Guiding Principles”). This endorsement could have gone unnoticed except by those in the room at the time,… More
Managing Risk: Integrating CSR and Compliance Functions Effectively
Corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) is an important component of overall enterprise risk management for many companies. That said, too often, corporate implementation of CSR commitments is reliant upon diverse functions and systems that may not be all that well coordinated with one another and may utilize a range of different oversight and accountability mechanisms.
Too often, assurance of corporate adherence to voluntary standards may not be well documented,… More
A Conference on Law and Corporate Social Responsibility
It used to be that the links between corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) and the law were not so clear. Practitioners in the field were few and far between and often faced considerable challenges in defining their roles and expertise to both internal and external stakeholders.
It is clear that times are changing. On September 19, many practitioners in the field of CSR and the law will gather in London for a conference hosted by the International Bar Association on “… More
Q & A on Trends in Corporate Social Responsibility
In November, Gwen Jaramillo and I published a piece in Practical Law that looked at trends relevant to CSR. The piece covered a range of topics, including new legislative and regulatory requirements, the role of the board of directors, and key concerns for corporate general counsel.
In noting the key role of the board in overseeing a company’s approach to CSR,… More
Q & A with Gare Smith, Chair of the Corporate Social Responsibility Practice
Barrick Gold Corporation (“Barrick”) recently published an interview with Gare Smith, Chair of Foley Hoag’s CSR practice and a member of Barrick’s CSR Advisory Board.
Gare founded the CSR practice in 2000 after serving as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor and Counsel to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy,… More
Building Connections between Compliance and CSR
CSR serves to strengthen a company’s capacity to listen to, and communicate with, a range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, legislators, and the communities impacted by corporate activities.
These stakeholders, in their dialogues with companies, often push companies to go “beyond compliance” with existing legal and regulatory standards, especially with regard to efforts to manage the social and environmental impacts of their operations. Even as these requests seek voluntary commitments,… More
Looking Ahead: Five Developments We’ll be Watching in 2013
As memories of New Year’s Eve fade, and another Inauguration Day winds down in Washington, D.C., it’s time to look ahead and identify key events and emerging trends that we think will help shape the business and human rights agenda in 2013.
Here are five developments that we’ll be watching closely:
Further integration of human rights considerations into business management systems. Eighteen months after the release of the U.N.… More
Board Oversight and CSR – Obligations and Considerations
Gwen Jaramillo and I recently authored an article for BNA Corporate Governance Report on the role of the board of directors in overseeing a company’s CSR initiatives and commitments. A copy of the article ("Board Oversight and Corporate Social Responsibility: Obligations and Considerations") is available here (.pdf).
At the conclusion of the article, we identify a number of questions that board members may wish to consider when thinking about their role in overseeing a company’s approach to,… More
Distinctions with Differences: CSR and Corporate Philanthropy
The topic for today’s #CSRChat on Twitter (hosted bi-weekly by Fenton) was “CSR and Corporate Philanthropy: Do the Two Align?” The chat fostered a lively debate and brought together a range of different viewpoints (all expressed in 140 characters!) on corporate social responsibility and philanthropic initiatives.
Reading through the discusssion, I reflected on the ways in which my role as an attorney has shaped my perspective on the distinctions between CSR and corporate philanthropy.… More
U.N. Human Rights Council Endorses Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
On June 16, the U.N. Human Rights Council formally endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights prepared by the U.N. Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie. The Human Rights Council’s endorsement represents the conclusion of the Special Representative’s mandate, which began in 2005.
The Principles are intended to provide guidance on the implementation of the "Protect, Respect, and Remedy"… More
Corporate Social Responsibility and Risk Management – New Article in Executive Counsel Magazine
Gare Smith and I recently co-authored an article on corporate social responsibility ("CSR") and risk management for Executive Counsel magazine. In the article, "Making Corporate Social Responsibility Systemic," one issue we discuss is the potential risk to companies that "claim to have embraced CSR and then simply point to glossy reports reflecting anecdotal philanthropic initiatives to demonstrate the degree of their commitment." We believe that
such companies fail to develop the internal policies and mechanisms necessary to ensure that the correct people,… More
Podcast on Recent Legal Developments in the Field of Corporate Social Responsibility
Last week, Sarah Altschuller was interviewed on Capital Thinking, an internet radio program on VoiceAmerica Business Network. During the interview, she addressed several recent legal developments in the field of corporate social responsibility, including the Dodd-Frank provisions on conflict minerals and disclosure of payments to governments, as well as the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.… More
Legal Speak: What are the Risks When Executives Don’t Understand CSR?
This post was originally published on January 21, 2011 by Vault.com‘s CSR Blog, “In Good Company.”
Last week’s post, “Why Don’t Executives Understand CSR?” prompted me to reflect on the risks to companies where executives claim pride in corporate CSR programs, but don’t really see CSR as a core element of their business strategy.… More