Fridman D.

Technischer Leiter, EPSTEIN GmbH, Frankenthal, Germany


The processes of globalization and integration, which are of decisive importance in the 21st century, the daily news informing about layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, as well as plants deploying production in developing countries, along with news about products that pose threat to health, the charges brought against some companies in an exploitative attitude towards workers and material resources – undoubtedly, all this had an impact on public opinion and led to growing discontent with companies policies.

For many years Germany was considered a role model in assuring good product quality, employment and working conditions, workers’ involvement, public services, and environmental protection. These high standards have served Germany and its economic development well for many years, both domestically and on international markets. In essence, ‘‘doing well by doing good’’ was required of German companies by the multiple institutional mechanisms that embedded business in society. Although the term ‘‘corporate social responsibility’’ (CSR) was not part of the German vocabulary, socially responsible practices were expected and these expectations were generally met [1, p.285-286].

The German government has developed the concept of CSR that is “made in Germany” to boost corporate social responsibility in Germany and to particularly win over small and medium-sized enterprises for CSR [2].

The guiding concept of “CSR ‒ Made in Germany” underscores the high level of social and environmental standards observed by Germany businesses operating in the international arena. In the process, the global quality label “Made in Germany” ‒ a proof of origin that was introduced in 1887 ‒ in combination with the abbreviation CSR will become a new quality label. It will be used to raise Germany’s CSR profile at home and abroad. The embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany and other organizations abroad are being included in these activities on a targeted basis. In connection with international business and political dialogues, the German government (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, among others) is also drawing greater attention to the subject of corporate social responsibility by, for example, conducting seminars on specific aspects of CSR for various interest groups such as businesses, unions and non-governmental organizations.

Upon adopting the National Strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in October 2010, the German government set itself the goal of raising public awareness of the concept of corporate social responsibility. Due to the structure of the German economy, the government's focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises: Small and medium-sized enterprises account for more than 99 per cent of all companies in Germany and more than 60 per cent of all employees and thus constitute the backbone of the German economy.

The Corporate Social Responsibility in SMEs programme is the core measure being implemented under the Action Plan for CSR, which the Federal Cabinet adopted on 6 October 2010. This programme offers tailor-made training measures throughout Germany to enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to put concepts for corporate social responsibility to use. The programme will run for three years and has a total volume of €26 million.

The Corporate Social Responsibility in SMEs programme supports CSR advisory service measures for company management, employees and employee representatives, depending on the respective enterprise’s need for action. Examples of possible training content:

– field of action ‒ Workplace: continuing training and qualification of employees, reconciliation of the demands of working life with the demands of raising a family, equality of opportunity and diversity in the company's workforce, fair pay and employee participation;

– field of action ‒ Environment: energy conservation, climate protection, use of natural resources, environmental management system, renewable sources of energy, environmental awareness among employees;

– field of action ‒ Market: socially and environmentally responsible production throughout the supply chain, respect for consumer rights and interests, transparent corporate governance;

– field of action ‒ Community: volunteer work by employees, partnerships with social organizations.

Good reasons for a national CSR strategy are in society benefits when businesses take on responsibility. Taking on responsibility means providing in-company vocational training for more youths than are necessary for meeting one’s operational needs. It means giving youths who are having difficulties a chance. Businesses that contribute to ensuring a strong and vital society, which practices solidarity, foster an environment in which they can operate successfully. Responsible business conduct strengthens the social and environmental dimensions of globalization. Corporate social responsibility is to be a trademark for German enterprises in Germany and abroad in the future as well. Reliable corporate values make small and large companies more competitive in both the national and international arenas. Corporate values foster solidarity in our society. Responsible business practices should also be more visible for consumers.

Businesses can use CSR to shape their environment in positive ways. Avoiding risks and creating opportunities ‒ in this way, CSR becomes a part of business strategy and a strong added value for German trade and industry when competing in international markets. “Made in Germany” means: quality that is also the product of responsibility.

The list of references:

1. Berthoin A. (Re)discovering the social responsibility of business in Germany / A. Berthoin, A. M. Oppen, A. Sobczak // Journal of Business Ethics. – 2009. – № 89. – Р. 285–301.

2. CSR – Made in German [Електронний ресурс]. – Режим доступу : en/csr-in-germany.html.