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The Measurement of CSR in France

May 15, 2007
The Measurement of CSR in France

What elements have contributed to the emergence of CSR? What are the foundations of CSR? What kind of regulations can be imagined as the role of the state in the economy is moving back? These are some of the interrogations Professor Allouche, Ph.D and Head of Human Resources Department at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Paris Sorbonne, presented during a conference held at the Confederation of Independant Trade Unions' headquarters on May 15, 2007.

 

According to Professor Allouche, Corporate Social Responsibility has gained great interest in the multinational companies and NGO's since its apparition more than ten years ago. He distinguishes four elements that have helped this concept emerge: the globalization of economic exchanges and the need for new regulations, the influence of environmentalists' claims, business ethics and the impacts of numerous financial scandals, and the as called «social paternalism » inherited, in any case in France, from the end of the 19th century.

 

However, although CSR is successful within the business community, it hasn't reached practical maturity yet. In Professor Allouche's opinion, CSR still isn't homogenous enough to be an effective management tool for companies.

 

Concerning regulation related to CSR, Professor Allouche presented some French law models concerning the social assessment of companies. One of them, promulgated in the 1970, oblige companies to write an annual report on their social performances based on 174 indicators related to Human ressources. However, such a report has a confidential status and many companies have confessed not having published it. On this point, Professor Allouche pointed out the paradox of this law addressing companies with such issues.

 

Quoted companies are legally bound by a recent bill, the 2001 « Loi sur les nouvelles régulations économiques », to publish a report on their performances concerning three dimensions: HR, Social and Environmental performances. This bill doesn't come with any penalty since the State, according to Professor Allouche, has understood that the penalty would come from the market. Indeed, how would it be accepted by the shareholders, the employees and the public opinion that a company doesn't want to publish such a report?

 

As Professor Allouche said , « the regulation is the market ». But as he also said, CSR is still an evolving concept that has to be confirmed in the companies' daily practices.


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