Corporate Social Responsibility in the new constitution

Corporate Social Responsibility in the new constitution

Corporate Social Responsability, CSR–Turkey, believes in creating a responsible soul for the new constitution. Therefore, as an NGO working extensively on Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR-Turkey proposes a “CSR Article for the New Constitution.” This input for the New Constitution is a unique approach, as CSR-Turkey solely presents a single article to be included in the Constitution.

Many European and other developed countries have placed emphasis on CSR as a key issue. It is widely accepted that the global economic crisis has had negative effects on stakeholders, so governments have had to take constructive steps to establish coherent, sound and sustainable CSR mechanisms.

Norway, for instance, has an inspiring history in terms of CSR, in which labor and management work in cooperation, integrating the roots of CSR into the public management system the country. Increased institutionalization of worker’s rights in the areas of safety, health and welfare is the root of CSR in Norway and very effectively-regulated in the Norwegian system, which can be presented to many developing countries as a best example. The “Corporate Welfare” culture integrated in the Norwegian business culture is also unique in its kind.

A strong legal basis can also be found in Denmark. The Danish Government Centre for CSR - a part of the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency (DCCA) under the Ministry of Business and Growth - is active in integrating CSR into the legal system and one of the key tools in achieving this is obligatory reporting. The “Statutory Requirement on Reporting CSR” has been obligatory for companies since 2009, with large businesses in Denmark required to account for their work on Corporate Social Responsibility.

Austria is another example where the issue of CSR was raised as early as 2002. In cooperation with the Ministry for Labour and Economy, the Federation of Austrian Industry and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber instituted the initiative ‘‘CSR-Austria’’ at the end of 2002. This began to give awards to companies for the best safety and healthcare conditions and the best labor conditions.

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The formation and practices of businesses can significantly affect environmental issues, climate change, health, education, human rights, and labor rights. The challenge of CSR is to engage business sectors voluntarily with these factors in mind, seeking to create a new paradigm, in which the business sector acts as a positive force to promote transparency, openness, and accountability throughout those societies, as well as play an important role in solving the other problems adherent to the countries: poverty, social problems, environment.

Recent surveys by CSR Turkey in partnership with UNDP-Turkey and ILO particularly show that SMEs, companies out of Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir do not implement strong CSR practices. In this sense, many human rights and environment infringements occur. However, some recent legal improvements give encouraging signs of corporate social responsibility. For instance, the comprehensive change to the Turkish Commercial Law is a key initiative to make companies more corporate. Therefore, the law includes corporate governance, transparency and accountability measures. However, it does not have social or environmental sections, to encourage companies for CSR initiatives. A second example is the draft law that shapes the future strategy for employment in Turkey. This draft law is expected to bring new measures related to working conditions, worker rights and labor related issues.

Nevertheless, the laws being passed and the ones that are being proposed are far from having a satisfactory CSR perspective. In this regard, there is a need for comprehensive CSR focus for the public administration and legal system in Turkey.

Therefore, CSR–Turkey proposes the below article for the New Constitution of Turkey:

Every individual and corporate citizen has the right to establish a free enterprise. However, all enterprises should act in compliance with social, environmental, human rights and ethical responsibilities that are framed via legal, voluntary and international CSR standards.

Serdar Dinler is the president Corporate Social Responsibility Association of Turkey. SERDAR DİNLER -