By Laura Manent
Recent years have witnessed an increase in the importance accorded to Corporate Social Responsibility around the world, as we get more and more preoccupied by climate change and sustainability issues.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to the fact that companies are responsible for the impact of their activities on society and the environment, so they decide to benefit society in different ways by acting upon social issues.
What about Switzerland ?
According to the Swiss Confederation,
“A consistent and broad implementation of CSR significantly improves sustainable development and provides solutions to social challenges.”
In fact, Switzerland considers that by being concerned about issues as working conditions, environment, human rights or corruption, companies can be more competitive and contribute positively to society. And yes, Switzerland knows something about competitive enterprises as the country is among the most competing in the world.
On 1 April 2015, the Swiss Federal Council adopted a position paper and an action plan on CSR. Considering its necessity, the Confederation decided to play a role in the development of a framework and standards surrounding CSR. By adopting a responsible behavior itself, informing and heightening awareness in Switzerland and abroad, providing support to Swiss companies and promoting transparency, the Confederation is looking to coordinate the implementation of its action plan between 2015 and 2019. Helping enterprises implement CSR by setting an example makes Switzerland a country where the government itself is socially and environmentally responsible.
Private and public sectors are involved
Companies such as SWISS and Swiss Life are already committed to corporate responsibility. The Swiss national airline, has developed a strategy regarding its ecological, social and economic responsibilities : it promotes health by looking after its staff’s well-being, supports a day nursery, supports technological progress and research into alternative fuels within the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to reduce its environmental impact.
Swiss Life, an insurance company, was part of the creation of the Swiss Climate Foundation in 2008 and created a foundation to fund domestic charitable initiatives in the fields of education, culture, health, and integration.
For those who don’t really know where to start, in 2000 Bettina Ferdman Guerrier created Philias, a business network aiming to promote CSR in Switzerland. Six years later, Humagora was created as a unique multi-stakeholder platform to promote partnerships between the private, public and nonprofit sectors, encouraging innovative and responsible projects with a societal impact in the country.
The 11th edition of Humagora is taking place on 11 November 2015, and will revolve around different themes such as environment and poverty. Through workshops and speeches, Humagora offers to companies and nonprofit organizations a dedicated platform of networking to get to know each other in order to act together. The Humagora Award rewards every year the most effective partnerships.
In 2008, the University of Geneva has even launched its own Executive Education in Corporate Social Responsibility in the form of a Certificate of Advanced Studies, Diploma of Advanced Studies, Executive MBA or Summer Courses (your choice to make), the University encourages professionals from private and public sectors to become the innovative and responsible leaders of tomorrow.