Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


EC to target public on CSR

September 2005

A campaign to make the public more aware of socially responsible business practice is to be run by the European Commission.

Officials believe that greater public understanding of how some companies are meeting their social and environmental responsibilities will put the spotlight on those doing little or nothing. They want the programme to stress how people can 'influence the behaviour of enterprises through their decisions as employees, consumers and investors'.

Tenders for a 12-month feasibility study must be in by 13 September, with the winning bid likely to be from a consultancy or non-governmental body.

The study will consider the best way to get the message across to the public and 'how to help [people] learn to find and use information about the social impact of products, services and investments'.

As part of the campaign, a pilot CSR exhibition for the public in Brussels is planned.

In a related project, the Commission is also expected to set up an open access website with content drawn from the sustainability reports of large European companies. The site will feature all European companies that have more than 1000 employees and publish a non-financial report.

Large European companies that do not publish reports will be named.

There will also be information on every company's affiliation to social and environmental schemes and networks, awards received, and whether they are listed in any socially responsible investment indexes. Several organizations in the sustainability reporting field will be invited to join an advisory committee.

The database, which the Commission hopes will publicize how European companies are meeting their social responsibilities and will promote sustainability reporting, is in part a response to recent calls from the European Union's Economic and Social Committee for an 'information portal on CSR practices adopted by large enterprises'. The demand was made in a recently published opinion of the committee entitled Information and measurement instruments for CSR in a globalized economy.

The Commission will be looking for a contractor to develop and run the database, but has postponed its tendering process  until the publication of its long-awaited white paper on CSR, expected shortly.

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