Sunday, January 23, 2011

CSR in Russia (Guest Blog)

Guest Blog by Alexey Kostin

Russian leading companies, by embarking on major projects in the field of CSR and sustainable development, are moving to address two goals at the same time – gaining a socially responsible image domestically and bringing themselves closer to the level of international leaders. ”Social charity” or philanthropy is only one part of the social “pillar” of CSR, which in Russia often has a pronounced image-enhancing nature.

CSR in Russia is most developed in the following areas: personnel development, workplace health and safety, corporate philanthropy and related PR-support. Less development has occurred in the areas of corporate governance, quality, safety, and cross-sector partnerships, especially with government. The most neglected areas of CSR are environmental policies, clean manufacturing, resource conservation, supply chain responsibility and ethical consumerism.

For about twenty of the largest Russian companies, CSR is becoming a component of corporate governance rather than merely a part of public relations. This is what is new about CSR in Russia: companies are increasingly complying with international practice and with “soft” international standards, specifically those proposed by GRI and AA1000 SES. However, the majority of Russian companies are still lacking compliance international standards in social and environmental responsibility.

According to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs’ (RUIE) Register,by the end of 2010 only 91 companies published non-financial reports since 2001. Approximately one third of those reports used methods and indicators from the voluntary international “mild” standards, such as GRI and AA1000S.

At a governmental level in Russia there is no legislation or even officially approved public frameworks of CSR. It develops exclusively on a basis of companies’ voluntary initiatives and activities. In 2004 a Social Charter of Russian Business was initiated by the Russian business community and has been signed by 230 companies and organisations. This code is quite similar to the UN Global Compact’s principles and stimulates the participants to follow progressive CSR principles.

Alexey Kostin, PhD, is Executive Director, of the Corporate Social Responsibility – Russian Centre. This blog is a modified extract from his chapter in The World Guide to CSR, edited by Wayne Visser and Nick Tolhurst.