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Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
 
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  1. Why should businesses care about their social and environmental responsibilities?
  2. Is there really a correlation between CSR and a business’s financial performance?
  3. Would consumers pay more fr products made by a socially responsible business?
  4. Can CSR improve a business’s reputation / image?
  5. Do employees really care about CSR?
  6. Can CSR reduce operational costs?
  7. Is the whole CSR issue a passing trend?
  8. What des CSR mean to the average citizen / consumer?
  9. What are the benefits of registration with the Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility?
  10. What are your criteria for accepting a business as a member?
  11. Do you ever criticise your members?
  12. Is it possible that businesses make a fuss over social responsibility only in order to cover up the negative effects of their activities?
  13. Do you think there is a place for such programmes at a time of economic deceleration?
  14. Are such programmes a way for businesses to cover the deficit created by the withdrawal of state benefits?
  15. Some of your members have been condemned for certain of their activities. Why do you continue your association with them?


1. Why should businesses care about their social and environmental responsibilities?

We believe that there are a number of ethical and financial reasons for businesses to take action in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility.
The ethical reasons are clear. The financial reasons are harder to measure. Through the voluntary implementation of CSR programmes, businesses show their positive position stance towards society and the environment. This way, they gain comparative advantages, become more resilient against surprises and increase their capacity to attract and retain customers and employees.
Some businesses also consider CSR a part of risk management and of their strategy for upholding and enhancing their reputation. At a time when a business’s reputation is considered one of its most valuable commodities, adopting CSR may build, in all those directly or indirectly involved with its activities (the stakeholders), loyalty and trust, thus securing a bright future.
In addition, these businesses may be added to specialised stock market and bank indexes, thus attracting more investments and gaining easier access to public and private organisations.


2. Is there really a correlation between CSR and a business’s financial performance?

Numerous studies have been conducted into this matter in recent years. In their majority (68%), results showed a positive correlation between corporate social performance and financial performance (Margolis & Walsh, 2001). Researchers have concluded that there is, overall, a positive correlation and minimal negative correlation between the two.
The London Business School confirms these findings. Out of 80 studies conducted into CSR, 42 showed positive impact, 19 showed no correlation, 15 showed mixed results and only 4 showed negative impact. Similar confirmation was provided by Harvard University, which found that businesses involved with those affected by their activities (the stakeholders) have a pace of development four times greater than those that focus solely on their shareholders.


3. Would consumers pay more for products made by a socially responsible business?

A recent study in Europe showed that 70% of European consumers claim that a business’s commitment to CSR is an important factor in their decision to purchase of a product or service. One in five state that they are prepared to pay more for products that are socially and environmentally responsible.
From a recent study conducted in Greece, it emerged that Greek consumers, while predisposed towards socially responsible products, are not yet prepared to pay extra. This results from the fact that CSR is still not widespread in our country.


4. Can CSR improve a business’s reputation / image?

In the contemporary business environment, a business’s image is increasingly considered one of its most valuable commodities. In certain major businesses, those intangible elements account for up to 95% of their reputation.
A business’s reputation is, of course, evident to consumers and pressure groups alike, and it may, therefore, strengthen or undermine its public position. A strong CSR policy may build loyalty to and trust in a brand.


5. Do employees really care about CSR?

CSR may have a major influence on attracting and retaining employees. Employees want good wages and good prospects – increasingly, however, they also want to feel proud of the business they work for. As the Managing Director of a multinational enterprise said, people don’t want to feel embarrassed when asked who they work for.
A study conducted in 2001 by the Cherenson group showed that 78% of respondents would prefer to work for a business that has an excellent reputation and pays them a wage that covers their needs. Only 17% answered that they would work for a business with high wages but a bad reputation.
CSR may also increase productivity. For example, businesses that improve working conditions and practices see a reduction in faulty or unusable merchandise.


6. Can CSR reduce operational costs?

Including CSR in business strategies may result in greater operational efficiency, such as improved efficiency in the use of energy and natural resources, waste reduction, and selling recycled materials.
Besides, there are CSR programmes whose implementation costs next to nothing, such as establishing codes of conduct, developing volunteering among employees, etc.


7. Is the whole CSR issue a passing trend?

The European Union, in recognition of the importance of CSR, and by decision of the Lisbon Summit (23-24.03.2000), set as its new strategic aim to become, by 2010, the most competitive and dynamic economy, which will be founded on knowledge and will be capable of sustainable economic development, providing more employment positions, better working conditions and greater social cohesion.
The results of this important commitment included the publication of the Green bible, and the undertaking of a series of CSR-related actions, which are currently in progress.
On the other hand, businesses and their stakeholders are increasingly coming to realise the benefits they stand to receive by the application of such actions and practices.


8. What does CSR mean to the average citizen / consumer?

The average citizen needs to understand that CSR benefits everyone and that, as a consumer, they must play an active role in such practices becoming established.


9. What are the benefits of registration with the Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility?

The Network offers its members a series of services:

Information

  • Free access to the bi-weekly CSR Europe electronic newsletter, which is published exclusively for members, and includes reports on all important developments in CSR, in Europe and the rest of the world.
  • Free subscription to the CSR Europe quarterly magazine, which includes detailed reports of national and international initiatives, with specialised cover of European CSR issues.
  • Privileged access to full results of online studies.
  • Unlimited access to the Network’s website, http://www.csrhellas.gr , which includes information sources, a data library and tools, such as the one designed for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
  • Information regarding activities and events organised by partner networks across Europe.
  • Personalised information and support by the Network’s staff.

Advice and Training

  • Privileged access to further advice and support
  • On-site training for members

Dialogue

  • Participation in dialogues with government services, Non-Governmental Organisations, communities, and other business organisations, regarding CSR developments.
  • Participation in forums, and information on CSR developments on a national and European level.

Development of Good Practices

  • The opportunity to assume leadership of CSR research programmes in special interest sectors such as human rights, education, and employment practices.
  • Privileged participation in seminars and conventions on CSR issues.
  • The opportunity to take part in the European Academy for CSR, for the development of CSR in prominent national and international business schools.
  • The opportunity to take part in the European Business Campaign for CSR.

Promotional Opportunities

  • Members listed by name in all Network documents.
  • Additional recognition in sectors where individual businesses play a leading role, as, for example, supporters of or participants in research programmes or events.


10. What are your criteria for accepting a business as a member?

Any business that submits a membership application and is supported by two member businesses may join the Network.
In order to be accepted as a key member, a business must meet the following criteria:

  • A minimum of 20 salaried employees
  • Turnover of at least of 1.5 million
  • Proven record of implementing CSR actions in the last three years

The Board of Directors also evaluates every application on the basis of a statement that includes:

  • The applicant’s main reason for joining the Network
  • The applicant’s CSR profile
  • Any knowledge and experience that the applicant may share will fellow members
  • Specific actions and programmes of the Network that might benefit the applicant.

The Board of Directors may unanimously approve, reject or freeze the application. New members are presented in the next General Assembly.


11. Do you ever criticise your members?

We never criticise our members for their activities regarding CSR, because we do not believe that is our role. Our members created this Network as a platform for exchanging experiences without fear of criticism. Even though we help them find the answers to certain questions through research, seminars or tools, we do not advise them on the steps they ought to take.


12. Is it possible that businesses make a fuss over social responsibility only in order to cover up the negative effects of their activities?

For many years, companies focused their business activities on profit, which is, of course, fair enough, but mustn’t be an end in itself. Global developments have resulted in companies facing a series of social, environmental and economic pressures. By adopting programmes of social responsibility, companies respond to these pressures, sending a message to all stakeholders that they are investing in a common future, whether in terns of social development, protecting the environment and respecting human rights, or cultivating new skills, promoting equal opportunities, improving the management of the huge changes we face daily, achieving social cohesion, protecting health, etc.


13. Do you think there is a place for such programmes at a time of economic deceleration?

Corporate Social Responsibility is a timeless concept. It mustn’t be affected by fluctuations in the economy. Certain more expensive programmes may be put on hold for a while, but there are also programmes that incur no cost at all.


14. Are such programmes a way for businesses to cover the deficit created by the withdrawal of state benefits?

It is a fact that, due to developments on a global scale, state benefits are constantly diminishing; benefits that were, so far, compulsory, or that we took for granted are being reduced. It is possible that some of those responsibilities will be passed on to the businesses through legislation. Corporate Social Responsibility, however, refers to actions or programmes that businesses commit to and implement on a voluntary basis, above and beyond what is required by law.


15. Some of your members have been condemned for certain of their activities. Why do you continue your association with them?

There are members that openly admit their interest in CSR results from mistakes they have made in the past, and which damaged both their reputation and their business operations, overall.
However, all our members acknowledge that they have made a commitment to the wider social environment of the contemporary global market. They also acknowledge that there is no quick and easy solution to the challenges facing global society. They do not claim to have all the answers, but they wish to become more transparent and to instigate dialogue, both through our Network and on their own.
Our aim is to help our members become more socially and environmentally responsible in the future.




 



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