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 areas such as 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 in the Netherlands. 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

Is your company internationally active or are your business relations located outside the Netherlands? Then the government expects you to apply OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies as the basis for your Corporate Social Responsibility policy 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. The OECD has also produced a downloadable Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct in several languages.

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.

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


  • 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. For some companies, this will be clear from the results of the Transparency Benchmark. Others 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, 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. Read the Netherlands Enterprise Agency's CSR page to discover the role CSR plays in their 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

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 covenant.

Financial plan viability tool for international enterprise

If you are planning to export, invest or expand abroad, you need a financial plan. The international financing / export credit insurance online tool helps you find out whether your international enterprise plans are viable.

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:

  • CSR Risk Check by MVO Nederland. An online due diligence check for your international supply chain. This tool shows you the risks you are exposed to in the supply chain in a specific country.
  • OECD Due Diligence Guidance: gives you tips on how to implement international corporate social responsibility.
  • On the National Contact point website for the OECD guidelines, you can find additional information on due diligence and guidance in several areas.
  • European Partnership for Responsible Minerals Due Diligence Check - find out if your mineral imports are in line with OECD guidelines.
  • CSR Risk Checker: in just 3 minutes the risk checker establishes where the CSR risks for your enterprise lie with regard to procurement, exporting and your production activities abroad.
  • ISO 26000 guidelines: practical advice for international CSR.
  • MVO-wegwijzer ISO 26000: discover what CSR means for your company and how to put this into practice according to ISO 26000 guidelines (in Dutch).
  • MVO-scan ISO 26000: find out in just 10 minutes how far you have got with implementing CSR according to the CSR ISO 26000 guidelines (in Dutch).
  • FMO exclusion list: activities and sectors which are not eligible for government support.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO