Georgia
Posted: 3 months ago

Multi Stakeholder Forum: “Public Policy on Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)”

Multi Stakeholder Forum will take place in Tbilisi Hotel Radisson Blu Iveria on June 28, 2019 (venue TBD) in the first half of the day for approximately 100 people.

The Forum will outreach representatives of various sectors – civil society organizations, leading Georgian and international business companies and business associations, state officials, international organizations, experts of relevant spheres and media.

The objectives of the Forum are to:

  • Demonstrate the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in achieving strategic goals of national policy and meeting requirements of EU association agreement;
  • Highlight the role of enabling public policy in promoting CSR and discuss policy instruments serving to this end;
  • Raise the issue on the social agenda and create the platform for the stakeholder dialogue;
  • Share experience of European countries.

Context:

Why CSR is a public policy issue

Globalization has changed the role of the company in the global economy by raising public expectations about how business should contribute to the social and environmental well-being of the society. These developments have also shaped the discussion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), also known as responsible business, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. It is a company’s voluntary choice to act ethically, consider expectations of various groups of the society, and make a positive impact on its social and natural environments. Accordingly, the strength of this concept, apart from its moral value, is the diverse and long-term benefit that the introduction of social responsibility brings to all stakeholders.  Voluntary social and environmental practices of business, going beyond companies' existing legal obligations, can also play a major role in filling the governance gap in a creative and innovative way; CSR is thus seen as not a substitute, but a complement to hard law.

This more comprehensive take on CSR – which simultaneously increases the responsibility and the legitimacy of the firm as a global and national-level actor – has in the last two decades transformed CSR into a public policy issue.

Regardless of the voluntary nature of corporate social responsibility, currently, no one doubts about the role that the governments should play in the promotion and development of CSR in their countries.

Over the last years, governments of many Western developed countries actively carry out CSR supportive policies - an alternative to strict regulation. Many countries have elaborated a common State policy and an action plan for promoting CSR; and various governmental agencies, special governmental committees, boards and other institutional structures have been created to manage and coordinate CSR issues.

CSR in developing countries and public policy framework

Public sector actors in developing countries and countries of transitional economy are also increasingly confronted with issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

In much of the developing world, governments and business understand that their respective competitive positions, access to capital and further integration into global economy, increasingly depends on being seen to respect the highest global standards of corporate responsibility.

Over the past years, governments, com­panies and NGOs in many middle-and-low-income countries have accelerated a process of adapta­tion of the developed-country-driven CSR agenda through greater direct engagement. CSR movements and initiatives have emerged in countries such as China, India, South Africa, the Philippines and Brazil, among others.

The relevance of CSR enabling public policy in Georgia

Against this backdrop, development of corporate social responsibility in Georgia is highly important; it will be beneficial for the country’s sustainable development, will assist to the improvement of foreign relations, and contribute to accomplishment of strategic objectives of the national policy, such as growth of the country’s economic competitiveness, promotion of trade and attracting foreign investments, addressing socio-economic and environmental challenges, improving living and working conditions etc.

Georgia’s general vector for Euro-integration, which urges us to more actively comprehend and implement European models and activity standards, also inevitably leads to increase of the importance assigned to CSR.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a relatively new, but very rapidly developing concept for Georgia. More and more Georgian companies understand benefits for implementing coherent CSR strategy and following international activity standards.

However, societal benefits of CSR practices will remain limited unless they can be integrated into broader national strategies, and public policies certainly have a role to play in this respect.

In 2011 CSRDG has developed the fundamental analytical research on CSR enabling public policies in various countries and recommendations for the Georgian government, that were based on the results of a desk research a and series of roundtable discussions with various stakeholders.

At that time due to various political and economic reasons the study and recommendations did not receive due attention.

The issue of supportive public policy is still and even more high at the agenda today, with the view of EU-Georgian AA and importance of CSR development for achieving AA objectives.

Thus, the forum aims to raise the issue on the agenda, discuss the various public policy instruments for promoting voluntary adoption by companies of sustainability consideration and to share experience of Western countries.

About the Project

Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (2017-2020) is funded by EU and co-funded by Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). The project is implemented by consortium of four Georgian civil society organizations: Civil Society Institute (CSI), Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC), Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG) and Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC) led by Konrad Adenauer Foundation. It aims to improve environment for the civil society in Georgia, by empowering civil society organizations and actors, and increasing their accountability towards citizens.

Several specific objectives are designed in order to achieve the overall objective of the program. One of those is to promote CSR in Georgia, in order to foster cross-sector cooperation and involvement of the private sector in development issues. This objective envisages following targets: Promotion of CSR and responsible business conduct (through trainings, web-resources, publications and other knowledge products); Promoting developing CSR enabling environment through working with government, academia, media and general public; Promoting cross sector dialogue and cooperation through multi stakeholder forums, micro-grants programs etc.