Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in public procurement is essentially about how contracting authorities take account of the economic, social, environmental and equality impacts of their purchasing activity, maximising the positive outcomes and minimising the negative.
The Scottish Parliament has legislation in place that requires any company applying for a government contract to comply with a range of ‘responsible business’ criteria, aiming to improve the ‘social’ dimension of business growth.
In terms of Corporate Social Responsibility, The Scottish Government works hard to embed the ideals of responsible business; this can be seen in the ‘Scottish Sustainable Action Plan
’. This aims to assist the public sector to build sustainable procurement into their corporate culture, take proper account of sustainability in procurement activity and to be able to demonstrate how this is being achieved.
CSR activity is gradually becoming much more prevalent and widely valued by both public and private sectors. Making significant contribution towards meeting wider CSR objectives and making it a core part of your business is increasingly becoming recognised and understood as a required area of business activity.
Therefore, perceptions are changing and more businesses are recognising the importance of their ‘green credentials’ within a wider responsible business commitment, recognising both its benefits to the community and their own employees. Businesses are increasingly realising that complying with ‘responsible business’ criteria is not only good for society but can deliver bottom-line business benefits in terms of: staff recruitment and retention; managing risk in supply chains; driving innovation and productivity; and opening up new markets.
Jane Wood, chief executive officer at Scottish Business in the Community (SBC) said
“We have a very diverse marketplace in terms of what CSR means to different organisations and across sectors.
Construction, for example, is very aware of the safety and training aspects, and the oil and gas sector likewise are concentrated in those areas.
Smaller companies may well have a social ‘intrapreneur’ in the workforce who will be encouraging this kind of responsibility within the business.
A lot of the drivers are apparent and businesses have fewer places to hide.
Traditional thinking often centred around the idea that you either make a profit or you go green but that to do both is not possible.
As Jane Wood explains, that view is inappropriate in the current climate.
I think you have, on the one hand, enormous pressures with companies to maximise production without ethical consequence considerations, yet on the other hand, if they don’t integrate CSR they will be at a competitive disadvantage.
CSR philosophy is no longer about writing a big cheque for charity once a year.
It is about integrating responsible business throughout your organisation and realising the benefit it brings.”
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