Corporate Social Responsibility: Commission Launches Awareness-Raising Drive for SMEs

Source: European Union, 13 October 2004

To inaugurate a major pan-European campaign to raise awareness about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Commission is hosting a launch event in Brussels today. Speakers include Commissioner Olli Rehn, British MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews as well as representatives from the private sector, trade unions and experts from the field of CSR.
Enterprise Commissioner Olli Rehn said: Todays event will highlight some of the best and most up-to-date corporate social responsibility policies and practices, and will help demonstrate how small and medium-sized enterprises can get maximum business advantage from applying them.

The campaign will run for 9 months, and will include 65 educational one-day events in the 25 EU Member States, three candidate countries and Norway. Each event will offer participants an introduction to CSR with a special focus on the aspects relevant to SMEs. Presentations of two real-life, good-practice CSR examples will be made at each event by companies directly engaged in CSR activities with their stakeholders, followed by open discussions and Q&A sessions. The programme will ensure that SMEs have a good understanding of the drivers, success factors and pitfalls related to CSR. It will also energise and motivate SMEs to engage in CSR activities by familiarising them with the many benefits to be gained, and by offering them practical information on how to proceed. Lastly, the programme offers SMEs a tailored, user-friendly CSR toolkit to take home.

The programme to follow the launch event will mainly target Europes 25 million SMEs, who are recognised as the most important drivers of economic growth and employment, and represent over 95% of European businesses. Together, they make an immense contribution to society by creating and securing jobs, providing products and services and paying taxes. They are a force for innovation and competitiveness crucial to the achievement of the European Unions strategic goals of economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection.

The Commissions partners in the CSR for SMEs programme are EUROCHAMBRES, UEAPME and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

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