Supporting Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives

Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that is becoming increasingly important in Canada and abroad. It is a concept that frequently overlaps with similar approaches such as sustainable development or social responsibility of the enterprise. Although there is no universal definition of CSR, many see it as a way for a company to deal with economic, social and environmental imperatives of its activities. Indeed, CSR closely resembles the concepts of sustainable development and the "triple bottom line" (the integration of economic, environmental and social imperatives) to which companies adhere. In addition to integrating structures and processes, CSR may also include the creation of innovative and proactive solutions in addressing societal and environmental challenges, as well as collaboration with internal and external stakeholders to improve CSR performance.

Multinational enterprises play an important role in the global economy. Through international direct investment, they bring substantial benefits to home and host countries in the form of productive capital, managerial and technological know-how, job creation and tax revenues.

At the same time, the social, economic and environmental impacts of MNE activities on the societies in which they operate remain a source of concern for the public. These concerns have led to a number of initiatives undertaken by a multiplicity of actors, both at the national and global levels, including the development of codes of conduct, monitoring and reporting initiatives, and social labelling schemes covering a broad range of issues, including labour standards. Among others, three multilateral projects specific to the international sphere aim at encouraging corporations to make a positive contribution to economic and social progress, and to minimize the difficulties their operations could generate.

Tripartite declaration on principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy of the International Labour Organization

The Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (PDF 91.24 KB) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the universal basic point of reference for corporate social responsibility in the world of work. It sets out principles, developed through tripartite dialogue, in the fields of employment, training, working conditions, and industrial relations. The ILO published a number of fact sheets on this Declaration that offer practical suggestions on building relationships in global markets among business, government and labour in order to encourage economic activity while promoting the protection of workers' rights and socio-economic development.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
guidelines for multinational enterprises

The OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises (PDF 903.5 KB) are recommendations from governments to multinational enterprises. They set out voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct, consistent with domestic and international laws, in areas such as human rights, employment and industrial relations, disclosure, environment, combating bribery, consumer rights and interests, science and technology, competition and taxation. Countries adhering to the Guidelines are required to set up a National Contact Point (NCP) that is responsible for promoting the Guidelines and contributing to the resolution of issues that arise in relation to the implementation of the Guidelines. NCPs are expected to operate in accordance with the core criteria of visibility, accessibility, transparency and accountability.

As a member, the Labour Program participates in the activities of the NCP of Canada and to the work meetings of its interdepartmental committee comprised of representatives of Federal departments. The NCP of Canada is responsible for:

  • promoting the Guidelines in Canada
  • responding to inquiries
  • contributing to the resolution of issues related to the Guidelines
  • cooperating with other NCPs
  • reporting annually to the OECD on its activities

United Nations Global Compact

At the 1999 World Economic Forum in Davos, the Secretary-General of the United Nations launched the United Nations Global Compact: an important multilateral initiative to support CSR. The United Nations Global Compact comprises ten principles derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The ten principles address human rights, labour standards, environment and the prevention of corruption. The International Chamber of Commerce supports the initiative.

For more information on Canadian initiatives in support of CSR, visit the CSR section of the Department of International Trade website.

Useful Links

Canadian organizations

International organizations and initiatives

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