“Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices”

“Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices”

There has been a one-quarter increase in the number of companies undertaking CSR activities in Poland, which were presented in this year’s edition of the Report “Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices”. The Reports have been released by the Responsible Business Forum for 15 years.

The English Summary of  the Report is available here

The Report “Responsible Business in Poland. Good practices” is Poland’s largest overview of socially responsible business activities in a given year. On 30 March, in Warsaw, it was released for the 15th time. The jubilee edition of the Report describes practices of 180 companies which undertook their activities in 2016. In comparison to 2015, their number increased by around one quarter (vs. 137 companies last year). Never before have so many companies reported their CSR activities for publication. The representation of SMEs – – 48 (vs. 35 last year; 47 in the 2013 Report) and the number of practices qualified to the Report – 880 (vs. 811 last year), which is a total of new and long-term practices, is also record-breaking. 461 initiatives were submitted to the Report for the first time (vs. 454 last year), 419 practices, on the other hand, were submitted once again, but undertaken in 2016 (vs. 359 last year).

– Such a significant increase in the number of companies included in the Report ‘Responsible Business in Poland. Good practices’ is great news to everyone who has been advocating responsible management for years. It is even more pleasing in the year of the jubilee edition as it proves that the CSR concept is developing and a growing number of companies want to perceive their businesses in terms of values rather than financial profit only. This is owing to many years of work of managers, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and communities which prove that we can actually cooperate and joint our efforts for sustainable development. I am glad that the Responsible Business Forum has always inspired the CSR circles, and that it still provides a platform for good cooperation – says Mirella Panek-Owsiańska, CEO of the Responsible Business Forum.

Practices in 7 areas

Just as in the previous editions, the practices in the Report were classified into seven areas according to the ISO 26000 standard: corporate governance, human rights, labour practices, environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, and community involvement and development. There is still a significant disproportion between the number of activities submitted to the Report by the companies, e.g. 11 new practices in the area of human rights and 190 qualified to the area of the community involvement and development. The authors of the publication address the issue, reminding of the need to regard CSR as a broader concept comprehensive, not only as philanthropic activities: “Although activities in the area of community involvement and development bring tangible benefits for the environment in which the business functions, a mature approach to CSR requires noticing and looking for changes, and specific solutions in other areas for which the guidelines were established in the above-mentioned standard” [p. 95 of the Report].

New practices

The number of new practices has not increased significantly. In the jubilee edition of the Report, there are 461 activities of companies submitted for the first time, while in the last year’s edition there were 454 of them. The areas in which their number increased noticeably are “the environment” and “consumer issues”.

This year, a record number of 72 initiatives (vs. 57 last year) in the area of natural environment has been reached. In terms of subjects, the activities from this area are still most willingly manifested as environmental education. Practices through which companies support biodiversity (visible involvement of energy-sector companies) and invest in sustainable construction, not only of offices but also shops, factories, and production halls, gain in importance.

In comparison with the previous edition of the Report, the number of practices in the area of consumer issues increased substantially. 42 qualified practices (vs. 26 last year) concerned, to a large extent, making products or services more accessible to, e.g. the elderly or disabled persons, and the purchase process or contract execution more understandable. They also indicated the need to educate customers, both as regards procedures and warning against dishonest service providers.

More practices appeared also in the area of fair operating practices – 28 (vs. 22 last year). The undertaken initiatives are usually addressed to suppliers. They increase the suppliers’ awareness of corporate social responsibility and safety at work. Practices aiming to promote CSR and sustainable development among their stakeholders were also submitted. The companies organized business meetings and conferences; they also released publications.

190 practices (vs. 186 last year) were qualified to the area of community involvement and development. As in the previous editions, their significant part concerned companies’ philanthropic activities. The companies also undertook educational activities, e.g. concerning health or safety. Many projects were addressed to children and teenagers, with the focus on forming and developing their career skills and entrepreneurial spirit.

Corporate volunteering and safety at work are the leading issues undertaken by companies in the area of labour practices. 99 initiatives (vs. 114 last year) included employee participation and integration, employee development, friendly recruitment and adaptation. A novelty was the so-called “mobile recruitment”, providing employment support to selected local communities.

In the area of organisational governance, there were 19 CSR good practices (vs. 36 last year). Among the submitted activities, attention is drawn to various forms of involving stakeholders in the dialogue process, which are being developed by the companies. They are no longer only panels but also stakeholder councils, invitations to the “round table” or inclusive workshops.

Just as in the previous editions, the lowest number of practices were submitted in the area of human rights – 11 (vs. 13 last year). The dominant subject is that of diversity management: popularization of the issue among employees, implementation of projects aiming to counteract exclusion in the workplace. More and more frequently, companies introduce diversity or anti-harassment policies and procedures.

For the first time with SDG

For the first time this year, the Report “Responsible Business in Poland. Good practices” was combined with the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), set in 2015 by the UN (the full version of the Report). In addition to the traditional classification to a given ISO 26000 standard area, the practices in the Report were also matched with the SDGs they fulfil. “For the first time in this edition of the Report, we decided to match the companies’ good practices with Sustainable Development Goals, to which they are conducive. Using this approach, we would like to promote the Goals and encourage all companies to take into consideration the challenges of sustainable development defined at the global level while creating and implementing both one-off activities and entire strategies of responsible business”, explain the authors of the Report [p. 18 of the Report].

The report data shows that business in Poland contributes most often to the implementation of Goal 4. Quality education – 92 practices, and Goal 3. Good health and well-being – 69 practices. An important, although a less popular, goal is Goal 11. Sustainable cities and communities – 38 practices. The smallest number of practices are represented by Goal 17. Partnerships for the Goals – 6 practices and Goal 14. Life below water – 1 practice.

Summary of the Year 2016

The jubilee edition of the Report is, in addition to the record number of companies and CSR practices, a collection of information summarizing the past year in responsible business. The introduction features eight expert articles. The media overview recommends 33 articles as well as an overview of the most important events and initiatives of the past year.

The release of the Report “Responsible Business in Poland 2016. Good Practices” on 30 March this year at Centrum Kreatywności Targowa in Warsaw was accompanied by presenting awards to the authors of best articles in 2016 devoted to the subject of responsible business in the Quill of Responsibility (Pióro odpowiedzialności) contest. Awards and distinctions were given to journalists publishing in the following, Polish newspapers and magazines: As Biznesu, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, gazetaprawna.pl, Gazeta Wyborcza, Hotelarz, Nienieodpowiedzialni.

On that day, five organizations joined the group of partner companies of the Responsible Business Forum. From the trade sector – Carrefour Polska; energy sector – Enea, and Veolia Polska, a Veolia Polska foundation in Poland; construction – LafargeHolcim in Poland.

The report “Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices” is the most important cyclical publication of the Responsible Business Forum, as published since 2002. The Report presents an overview of activities carried out by the companies which reported on their CSR practices, and provides a summary of key issues of responsible business in Poland reviewed in each year. The introductory section features expert articles and commentaries. Moreover, each publication contains an overview of selected press articles and a calendar of CSR events.