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Corporate social responsibility or CSR (Maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen, MVO) means that you take into account the effects of your operational management on people, the environment and society within your company. The CSR activities are different with regard to every company. This is related to the sector, the size and culture of the company and the business strategy.
Corporate social responsibility (or sustainable business practice) involve activities that are not regulated by legislation. There are, however, internationally recognised standards and guidelines for CSR such as:
CSR guidelines often involve shared agreements within a group of companies and other stakeholders such as authorities and/or non-government organisations (NGOs).
Quality marks and certificates
You can use different quality marks and certificates to make your CSR activities transparent. A quality mark is a label that is awarded by an independent external party to a product, service or company when it meets standards set in advance.
Product-related quality marks
Product-related quality marks refer to a specific product or service. The quality mark is added to the packaging of the product or is listed when marketing the service. Well-known quality marks are those awarded by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and UTZ CERTIFIED (for coffee, tea, cocoa and palm oil).
Theme-specific quality marks
Theme-specific quality marks concern certain themes such as fair trade or carbon footprints. They can apply to companies and to specific products. Examples are the Max Havelaar Quality Mark (Fairtrade) and Eco Label (Milieukeur).
General CSR quality marks
General CSR quality marks are related to the CSR level of a whole company. Examples of this are the CSR Performance Ladder (MVO Prestatieladder), the Dutch CSR Quality Mark (Keurmerk NL MVO), the IMA MVO (CSR) Standard and the CSR Indicator (MVO-Wijzer).
You can read more about investing in sustainable business operations and CSR in general on the Netherlands Enterprise Agency's website. There is also a handbook on sustainable profit for SMEs, which describes seven practical steps on how to achieve this.
Sustainable procurement by authorities
If you deliver products or services to Dutch authorities, these products do not need to be CSR certified. (Local) authorities do, however, consider sustainability requirements in their tendering process. The government uses specific sustainability requirements with regard to 45 product groups. These requirements have been defined in criteria documents.