Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 30 Aug 2023
2 min read
Nederlandse versie

Corporate social responsibility or CSR means taking responsibility for the impact of your business operation on people, the environment and society. You make sure your business does not have a negative impact. With CSR, you address or prevent poor working conditions, environmental pollution, and poverty. If you do business internationally, the government expects you to follow the OECD guidelines.

Some examples of CSR are:

  • You pay extra attention to 'green' working conditions for your employees and contribute to maing their homes more sustainable.
  • When buying products and services you do not focus solely on price but mind the effects your purchasing has on people and the environment.
  • You involve the entire business chain or supply chain in which you operate in CSR (chain responsibility).
  • Your business practices are ethical. You do not abuse your power for instance through corruption (bribery or extortion).

CSR can benefit your company but CSR activities differ from one company to the other. This depends on the sector, size, and culture of the company and its business strategy.

OECD guidelines for CSR

Do you do business abroad? Then the Dutch government expects you to keep to the OECD guidelines. These are internationally recognised rules of conduct that help you deal properly with the environment, and issues such as human rights, child labour and corruption. The OECD guidelines are mainly voluntary. However, the rule on corruption is mandatory. Corruption is a criminal offence in the Netherlands. This also applies in cases where corruption has been committed abroad.

The OECD guidelines contain the main regulations for CSR in the Netherlands and abroad. You can also find information and guidance on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

National Contact Point OECD-guidelines (NCP)

The Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) offers you support to bring the OECD guidelines in practice. In addition, you can also report differences of opinion to the NCP about applying the OECD guidelines. The NCP will then act as an independent mediator.

CSR agreements

Many national and international customers, governments, and societal organisations expect companies to respect human rights and environmental standards. The government has Sustainable Public Procurement requirements to fulfil CSR requirements when purchasing goods or services from a company.

The government also has agreements with various Dutch business sectors and with societal organisations on International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR). These agreements are laid down in ICSR covenants.

Government support and CSR

Do you want to qualify for any subsidy or loan from the Dutch government when doing business abroad? Or do you want to join a trade mission? You must apply CSR in your business practices. You also have to demonstrate that you keep to the OECD guidelines.

Proof of CSR

Do you want to show that your company applies CSR rules? You can do this for example, by:

  • using a label, for example a quality trademark or logo
  • providing a performance comparison to show how well your company is doing with regard to CSR in your region or sector
  • providing a declaration, in which you or your staff declare your CSR commitments
  • drafting a sustainability report on your CSR activities
  • sending out publicity about your CSR activities

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