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Government information for entrepreneurs

International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR)

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)

Running a company in accordance with international corporate social responsibility (ICSR) principles means taking the impact your business on man, the environment and society into account. ICSR affects working conditions, the environment, human rights and corruption. Your company can benefit from applying ICSR, for instance it could strengthen your company’s reputation. It is also a key condition for government funding. The OECD guidelines state what the Dutch government (and the 48 other countries which have committed themselves to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies) expect in terms of international corporate social responsibility.

Get ready for ICSR

If you, as entrepreneur, are internationally active or your business relations are located outside the Netherlands? Then the government expects you to apply OECD Guidelines for Multinational CompaniesExternal link as the basis for your Corporate Social Responsibility policyExternal link and to report on it. This means you have to include the OECD guidelines in your social and annual reports or other publically available documents. For instance, you may publish an ICSR declaration on your website.

Target: 90% endorsement by large companies in the Netherlands

The Dutch government wants 90% of its large companies to explicitly endorse the OECD guidelines by 2023. If your company is considered to be a large company, you will have received a letter to this effect. This applies to companies with more than 500 employees and:

  • total assets of more than 20 million euros

OR

  • a net turnover of more than 40 million euros

Every other year, the government carries out checks to measure which companies explicitly endorse the OECD guidelines. In the summer of 2019, the government will establish how many companies do so. For some of these companies, this will be indicated through the results from the Transparancy BenchmarkExternal link which takes place at the same time. And for others, they already report on the steps they are taking to apply the OECD guidelines. The government will also check whether companies which are not participating in the Transparency Benchmark are implementing the OECD guidelines.If your company has not yet explicitly endorsed the OECD guidelines. Then the government will discuss this with you and offer extra support if required.

ICSR by example

More can be expected from large companies than from small and medium-sized companies. The Dutch government expects all large companies which operate abroad to actively implement OECD guidelines in their CSR policy. The size of these enterprises means that this group has a greater impact in their sectors and their production chains. They can show other companies how to apply OECD guidelines by example. Nevertheless, OECD guidelines should also form the basis upon which small and medium-sized companies operate when they do business abroad.

CSR as condition for government funding

If you want to be eligible for government subsidies and loans for international enterprise or take part in trade missions, then you have to demonstrate that your company explicitly endorses the OECD guidelines. If it comes to light that there are abuses in your production chain, and you could have addressed or prevented these abuses. Then you risk damage to the reputation of your company. In some cases, your company may be legally liable. Watch this ICSR videoExternal link to discover the role CSR plays in Netherlands Enterprise Agency projects.

Find out more about government subsidies

Check which subsidies are available by using the online Subsidy toolExternal link or for a full list use the Dutch-language subsidy toolExternal link.

Join one of the ICSR covenants

If you do business abroad, the government expects you to do so in a responsible way. This means establishing the risks and tackling or preventing abuses. In order to tackle risks which companies are unable to resolve on their own, company sectors together with societal organisations and the Dutch government make agreements to prevent abuses in a ICSR covenant. In the clothing, textile, banking, food and metal sectors, for instance, agreements have already been laid down in covenants. If you belong to one of these sectors, you can join your sector's ICSR covenantExternal link.

Subsidy and insurance tool for international enterprise

If you are planning to export to, invest in or expand abroad. Then it can be difficult to arrange finance. This online subsidy tool helps you find out whether your international enterprise is eligible for government funding or export insurance.

Use these international CSR tools

In addition to the OECD guidelines, these tools can help you implement international corporate social responsibility when doing business abroad:

Go for the 5 benefits of CSR

Implementing corporate social responsibility in your business practices is not just good for man, the environment and society. It can hugely benefit your company, as a result of:

  1. A strong reputation. And therefore a greater reason to be.
  2. Loyal customers. As ‘green’ company, you increase the chance of customers wanting to work with you and to keep working with you.
  3. Motivated and proud employees.
  4. Savings in costs. For instance by reducing energy use.
  5. Innovation and market opportunities. Demand for sustainable products and services is on the increase.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)