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Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Corporate social responsibility or CSR (Maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen, MVO) means taking responsibility for the impact of your business operation on man, the environment and society. CSR helps you address or even prevent poor working conditions, environmental pollution and poverty.

  • You pay extra attention to working conditions.
  • Your business is sustainable. You save energy and use raw materials smartly.
  • Your business practices are ethical. You do not abuse your power for instance through corruption.
  • You provide your customers with clear information.
  • Your company actively engages with the community you serve.

CSR activities differ from one company to the other, depending on the sector, size and culture of the company and its business strategy.

Is CSR obligatory?

Corporate social responsibility (also known as sustainable business practice or responsible business conduct) is not regulated by legislation. There are, however, internationally recognised standards and guidelines for CSR. The OECD guidelinesExternal link contain the main regulations for CSR in the NetherlandsExternal link and abroad. This code of conduct is mainly voluntary. The only rule which is compulsory is on corruption. Corruption (bribery or extortion) is a criminal offence in the Netherlands. This also applies in cases where corruption has been committed abroad. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency has more information on corporate social responsibilityExternal link.

CSR agreements

Many national and international customers, governments and societal organisations expect companies to respect human rights and environmental standards. The Dutch government adheres to CSR requirements when it purchases goods or services from a company. The government has Sustainable Public ProcurementExternal link requirements for 45 product groups. 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 an ICSR covenant.

Governement support

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

Proof of CSR

If you want to show that your company applies CSR rules, you can do this in the following ways, 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.

Tools have been developed to help you implement your CSR policiesExternal link.

National Contact Point OECD-guidelines (NCP)

The Dutch National Contact Point (NCP)External link 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.

This article is related to:

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO