Report „Responsible Business in Poland 2015. Good Practices” – english summary
The Report: Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices, prepared by the Responsible Business Forum, is the largest review of socially responsible business activities in Poland. It presents data for the previous year, so the latest edition reflects the year 2015. This year’s edition shows a record-breaking number of good CSR practices: 813 (the sum of first-time reported and long-standing practices; the last year’s total was 684). 454 new examples of corporate activity have been published (vs. 420 last year), plus 359 long-standing activities, understood as those already described in the previous editions of the Report but continued over 2015 (vs. 264 last year).
“Polish businesses are reporting more and more good CSR practices. These are both new and long-standing initiatives, and most of them are employee-oriented or benefit local communities in which the businesses operate. Sadly, the 137 leading companies are no more than just a drop in the ocean. We still have a lot to do when it comes to convincing other Polish businesses that it’s worth making integrity and responsibility an integral part of their business strategy. These days a company should bring real value, not just profits,” says Mirella Panek-Owsiańska, President of the Responsible Business Forum.
The development of CSR is also noticeable in the number of companies reporting new practices. There are 137 of them (vs. 124 last year), of which 35 represent the SME sector (31 last year). The areas with the highest number of practices remain the same. They are ‘local community involvement and development’ and ‘labour practices’.
“The number of practices reported reflects a strong increase in CSR activity in comparison to 2014. Importantly, not only did we record a high increase in the number of entries in general, but in addition the number of long-standing practices is catching up with the number of new, not yet reported practices. This confirms what we already communicated last year – CSR is becoming more and more professional in Poland, and the business sector is looking for long-term benefits in that concept, an attitude which is totally right,” says Marzena Strzelczak, General Director of the Responsible Business Forum.
An Employee More Important Than A Customer
The Report: Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices classifies business activities into 7 areas according to the ISO 26000 standard: organisational governance, human rights, labour practices, environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, and community involvement and development. While the most practices are featured in the area of community involvement and development, the strongest growth can be seen in the area of labour practices (84 practices in 2014 and 114 practices in 2015).
This could be due to the fact that the labour market is shifting towards the employee’s market, and therefore employers are looking for opportunities to make a difference and attract the best talents. Secondly, representatives of generation Y or generation Z are also more and more demanding as employees and they appreciate a socially responsible brand image. CSR provides tools to improve HR management, enhance staff experience, and build a specific corporate culture, allowing to retain a highly qualified workforce. Therefore, practices encouraging and supporting healthy lifestyles, facilitating settling in new jobs or promoting work-life balance do not come as a surprise.
This is additionally explained by the CSR Managers survey carried out last year by the Responsible Business Forum. Respondents asked about the benefits of CSR mentioned workplace-related benefits first, and specifically: increased ethics awareness of staff and improved employee engagement. So after 15 years of CSR’s presence in Poland, companies are noticing the impact of corporate social responsibility on labour issues and derive tangible benefits from it.
CSR activities targeting consumers, on the other hand, do not develop so well at all, which is also pointed out by the authors of the Report. They believe this area is underrepresented. 26 good practices were reported here (vs. 21 last year). In their activities, businesses place a strong emphasis on the availability of their products and services, also for less favoured groups. The beneficiaries of such activities include disabled persons (for example hearing-impaired) or seniors.
Other CSR Areas
Just like every year, the highest number of practices is reported in the area of local community involvement and development: 186 activities pursued by 99 companies. Educational activities play a pivotal role here, more and more often being directly related with the company’s specialisation, its business activities, which could reflect an improved understanding of the CSR definition.
The third area in terms of reported practices is the environment – 57 examples of corporate activities. Stakeholder education, too, plays an important role among good practices, as far as environmental issues are concerned. Three practices involving renewable energy sources are a novelty this year. This subject did not emerge in the two previous editions of the Report.
Under organisational governance, 36 good practices reported by 28 companies are described. The figures are almost the same as last year: there are 35 practices in the 2014 Report. The top themes are still reporting and management, stakeholder dialogue and ethics issues.
The area of fair operating practices has 22 practices, seven less than last year. Stakeholder relations are important – increasingly regulated by codes of conduct which set the framework for cooperation and acceptable rules of business conduct. Educational activities are carried out here, like in other areas, for instance those addressed to other market players.
Like in the previous years, human rights turned out to be the least represented area. 12 examples of business activities involved the subject of women in business, counteracting human rights violations and diversity.
CSR in 2015
Aside from the overview of good business practices, the Report: Responsible Business in Poland 2015. Good Practices summarises the past year. The event calendar covers 78 CSR initiatives, and it shows surveys, publications and competitions. The media review contains 38 recommended press articles, and the introductory section of the report seven expert papers which discuss key events in 2015 from the CSR perspective, such as the Indonesia forest fires, the Objectives of Sustainable Development or the issue of refugees.
During the announcement of the Report, on 31 March, main prizes and honours were awarded in the 6th edition of the Responsible Pen (Pióro odpowiedzialności) contest for journalists. On the same day, five new companies were officially accepted as RBF members, and long-standing partners were acknowledged for their cooperation with RBF.
The Report: Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices is the most important cyclical publication of the Responsible Business Forum, published since 2002. The report presents an overview of activities carried out by companies which reported on their CSR practices and a summary of key issues of responsible business in Poland for the year under review. The introductory section features expert articles and commentaries. Moreover, each publication contains an overview of a selection of press articles and a calendar of CSR events.