November 2008 | By Joaquin Garralda, Professor at IE Business School
Corporate Social Responsibility now forms an integral part of the corporate DNA, but like humans, CSR comprises different ethnic groups. Around the year 2000, large multinational firms began to understand that if there was political instability, corruption and social malaise in less developed countries and they did not have minimum levels of health and education, poverty would become structural and the effects of the situation would not be limited to the said countries, but would also affect developed markets in various ways.
In addition, supranational political bodies began to recognise the need to support the business community in order to reach the “Millennium Development Goals”, a United Nations initiative created to eradicate world poverty. One example of this recognition is the United Nations Global Compact initiative, presented to large international enterprises by Kofi Annan in a meeting at the Davos World Economic Summit (Switzerland) in 1999. For the enterprise, signing this initiative means trying to include the 10 principles (respect for human rights, labour rights, the environment and anti-corruption processes) in all their transactions, regardless of the country in which they operate. The ultimate goal is for businesses to set voluntary limits to their procedures in environments where institutional fragility or the lack of control over resources could lead to behaviour not in keeping with a more human and sustainable world.