Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions

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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 10



CORPORATE social responsibility can be seen as a new way of doing business based not only on profit (although companies’survival depends mainly on it), but also ona socially responsible business management.

European Commission’s Green Book defines corporate social responsibility as the“companies’ voluntary intention to consider social and environmental matters when dealing with their commercial operations and relationships”.

The Spanish Institute for Labour Safety and Hygiene, a body of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affaires, defines a “socially responsible company” as follows:“An economically competitive company that tries to accomplish its goals in order to guarantee its survival, while trying also to meet the following requirements: offer products and services which fulfils its customers’ needs and contribute to the improvement of welfare; act beyond the minimum legal requirements, optimising the form and content of its duties; integrate ethics into every decision taken by its board and executive staff and make it part of its corporate culture; give priority to establish good relationships with its employees, as well as ensuring safe and healthy labour conditions; respect the environment and integrate into its community; offer solutions to every specific need, trying to find a balance between its interests and society’s ones. A company’social action is important, but it is obviously not the only fact regarding social responsibility”.

Every company should consider RSC as a strategic conduct that embraces general planning, proceedings and systems, monitoring and metrics and external communication through a report submitted to the community where the company works at. We may also consider that RSC is linked to human rights, social and economic cohesion, and labour standards.

Nowadays, sustainability is a major issue at the business level; a company’s value does not solely depend on its assets. Now it also depends more and more on the opinion of others about the company and its contribution to society. Today, it is essential for corporations to explain what they do and how they contribute to the improvement of society, since people judge a

company not only by its economic performance, but also by its social compromise. People appreciate company’s interest about social issues and its contribution to society. Therefore, profits are important since they can be used to benefit the society a company is working at.

RSC is directly linked to theTEN UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES of United Nations’ Global Compact:

TEN UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES

HUMAN RIGHTS

1. Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.

2. Businesses should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

LABOUR STANDARDS

3. Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

4. Businesses should uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour.

5. Businesses should uphold the effective abolition of child labour.

6. Businesses should uphold the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

ENVIRONMENT

7. Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.

8. Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.

9. Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

ANTI-CORRUPTION

10. Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.

Spanish saving banks have traditionally faced up society’s challenges, subsidiarily supporting governments and other institutions’measures while avoiding deceitfulness.They have always acted in a socially responsible way. While for some companies RSC is just a 21st century trend, Spanish saving banks have been applying it for 170 years. At first, their goal was to“find a balance between society and economy in order to fight exclusion and usury and help savings to move and be invested in projects hat would benefit the nation and which may result in job and ealth creation. All this would therefore contribute to economic and social progress”.

For saving banks, RSC must take into account a good corporate management, internal and external relationships, financial activities’ social effects, and the social investments themselves. Society must know that saving banks are as financially competitive as any other corporation from any country, while they are unequalled investors in the social field. No other companies invest as much money in social projects as the saving banks do; nearly 30% of their profits are invested in social projects regarding several subjects: social and health assistance, education and research, culture and leisure activities, environmental actions and programmes, heritage renovation, etc. In 2004, Spanish saving banks invested 1,19 billion, in social projects, which represents 14,5% more than the previous year. According to Carlos Balado, Director for Social Investment and Institutional Relationships at Spanish Confederation of Saving Banks (CECA),“financial activities must always be linked to social investment, and social investment is impossible unless a corporation makes money, accumulates reserves and makes itself stronger and more solvent”.

When saving banks invest in social projects, they get involved themselves, instead of just providing the funds so that other people manage it. They have short, medium and long-term programmes, and so their contributions last until the project achieve its goal. Therefore, we can say that it is society as a whole that benefits from every social action undertaken by saving banks.

Saving banks help its active employees and those who are pensioners or have retired by letting them use their facilities as headquarters for their organizations, or by providing funds. We can proudly say that these organizations we have been working for are a great example of corporate social responsibility.

José Roberto López Martínez

Executive Vice-president of the Group