International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR)

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO

Do you do business internationally? If so, the Dutch government expects you to consider international corporate social responsibility (ICSR). Sometimes you also have to report on this to the government. Soon there will be laws and regulations that make ICSR a requirement. Therefore, start taking the first steps now.

What is international corporate social responsibility?

When doing international business, the government expects larger companies to act in an internationally responsible manner. Applying international corporate social responsibility (ICSR) principles means taking the impact of your business on people, animals, the environment, and society into account. ICSR affects areas such as working conditions, the environment, human rights, child labour, and corruption. Not only in the Netherlands but especially in your international chain. More and more consumers, governments, and large companies want sustainable and fair products.

Get started with ICSR

With ICSR you do everything with 'due diligence'. This means you prevent as many risks as possible in your company and international chain. Use the OECD's step-by-step plan to apply due diligence in your company.

1. Draw up an ISCR policy for your company

Make an ICSR policy for your company and management. Organise, for example, workshops or training courses in ICSR for your employees. Then involve them in the development and implementation of ICSR in their daily work. Use the OECD guidelines for ICSR to draw up your policy.

2. Check the risks

You are responsible for the entire chain of your product or service. From raw materials to finished product. So, check if there are risks within your company or in your chain, for example to the environment, or employees. Use the MVO's CSR Risk Checker to do this check.

3. Prevent or end negative consequences

Include how you will prevent or end any risks in your ICSR policy. For example, what you will do if a supplier does not respond to your complaints. Make it clear that you expect your suppliers, customers, and other business relations to comply with ICSR.

4. Keep track of your results

Regularly review the results of your ICSR policy. Make a schedule to do this at set times. This will allow you to adjust and adapt your policy if necessary.

5. Publicise your ICSR policy

Consumers, governments, and large companies increasingly want a sustainable product or service. Therefore, make your ICSR policy public. Publish it on your website, for example. Also describe how you mitigate or address any risks.

6. Take action in the event of complaints

Your ICSR policy also sets out what you do in the event of complaints. For example, in the event of a complaint from a customer or an employee. Make sure your company has a complaints desk or complaints department.

Get help and advice from the RVO

Are you running into practical issues? Or would you like help in applying due diligence in your company? You can contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO) for advice and information. The ICSR advisers at RVO will be happy to think along with you.

ICSR as a condition for government funding

If you want to be eligible for government subsidies and loans for international enterprise, then you have to demonstrate that your company follows the OECD guidelines. These set out what the Dutch government and governments in 48 other countries expect if you undertake international corporate social responsibility. You must publish your ICSR policy in an annual report or other public document. Read the Netherlands Enterprise Agency's CSR page to discover the role CSR plays in international projects.

Find out more about government subsidies

Check which subsidies are available by using the Netherlands Enterprise Agency online Subsidies and Programmes tool. Or for a full list use the Dutch-language subsidy tool.

Join one of the ICSR covenants

ICSR covenants contain agreements to prevent risks and misunderstandings in the (international) chain. Risks and misunderstandings that businesses themselves find difficult to solve. For example, child labour, cruelty to animals, or damage to the environment.

To tackle risks that companies cannot resolve on their own, company sectors together with societal organisations and the Dutch government make agreements to prevent abuses in an 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 covenant.

Reporting on ICSR

Do you have a listed company or a large enterprise? If so, you must report on your company's sustainability policies and performance starting in 2024. Do you have a medium-sized or small company? Then you do not have to report on ISCR until at least 2026. Read more about mandatory reporting.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO