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CSR Best Practices

The following sections provide sources of best practices for corporate social responsibility to help directors and executives better understand and help facilitate the process of developing a more formally integrated corporate social responsibility and policy and practice for their companies. 

Governance Best Practices

Fundamental to the concept of good corporate social responsibility practices is good governance.  The definition of what constitutes good or best practices in corporate governance is a dynamic one.  Having said that, there is no doubt that the foundational principles of what constitutes sound governance for Canadian companies is now well established.  The foundation was well laid with the release of the Dey Report, sponsored by the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1994 and revisited and updated in 1999.  Since that time, regulators and governing bodies of professional organizations, such as the Canadian Institute for Chartered Accountants, have put their own stamp on the subject.  The Corporate Governance Guideline published in 2003 by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) – the federal regulator of banks, insurance companies and trust companies (among others) – is a fine example of this. While these various guidelines apply only to publicly traded and/or federally regulated bodies, the general consensus is that they represent principles of good governance for all companies and adherence will stand those companies in good stead.

For PDF copies of the 1999 Dey Report Update and OSFI’s 2003 Corporate Governance Guideline, go to the following Internet sites:

In addition to the above resources the following corporate social responsibility best practice resources have excellent detailed governance best practice indicators and measurement dimensions as well.

CSR Best Practices

A number of very good sources exist for best practices with regard to corporate social responsibility.  The following summarizes a number of them.

The Conference Board of Canada

The Conference Board of Canada has published a number of articles on corporate social responsibility including the The National Corporate Social Responsibility Report: Managing Risks, Leveraging Opportunities, June 2004.  In addition the Conference Board offers many other tools and reports on corporate social responsibility, however there usually for fee for each.

This includes The Corporate Responsibility Assessment Tool (CRAT).  The CRAT examines five dimensions of CSR common to both the domestic and worldwide activity of Canadian corporations.  These include:

• Governance and management practices

• Human resources management practices

• Community investment and involvement

• Environment, health and safety

• Human rights

Also suggested is Emerging Practices in CSR Management.  This report provides a framework that will help companies understand the different ways in which CSR can be managed effectively and integrated organization-wide. How do specific organizations manage their CSR activities internally? This report examines this question with a view to helping organizations and CSR professionals understand the benefits and challenges of the path they are choosing. It also provides practical suggestions on how to overcome the challenges associated with these approaches.

For more information go to:

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Another excellent corporate social responsibility resource for best practices is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  GRI is a multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.  These Guidelines are for voluntary use by organizations for reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services.  The GRI incorporates the active participation of representatives from business, accountancy, investment, environmental, human rights, research and labour organizations from around the world.  Started in 1997, GRI became independent in 2002, and is an official collaborating centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and works in cooperation with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Global Compact.  For more information go to:

GRI Guidelines recommend that five sections appear in a sustainability report:

  • A statement from the CEO and discussion of the reporting organization’s sustainability strategy.
  • An overview of the reporter’s organization, operations, stake­holders, and the scope of the report.
  • A descrip­tion of the reporter’s organizational structure, policies, management systems, and stakeholder engagement efforts.
  • A cross-referenced table that identifies the location of specified information to allow users to clearly understand the degree to which the reporting organization has covered the content in the GRI Guidelines.
  • Measures of performance of the reporting organization divided into economic, environmental, and social perfor­mance indicators.

GRI examines and defines the Social Indicators of corporate social responsibility as concerned with how an organization impacts the social systems within which it operates.  GRI social indicators are grouped into three clusters: labour practices (e.g., diversity, employee health and safety), human rights (e.g., child labour, compliance issues), and broader social issues affecting consumers, communities, and other stakeholders (e.g., bribery and corruption, community relations).  Because many social issues are not easily quantifiable, GRI requests qualitative information where appropriate.

GRI indicates that organizations may adopt this format as required to their particular circumstances.  For more information on their Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, the following link will open a PDF overview document:

For an overview of the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) public reporting of their corporate social responsibility performance using the GRI system, click on the following Link:

MNE Declaration

The Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) is a formal agreement between business, labour, and governments on the social responsibilities of business and government in the area of labour and employment.  Governed by the International Labour Organization Governing Body, the MNE Declaration is a set of guidelines that covers issues such as training, work conditions, and industrial relations.  For more information go to:  For a PDF copy of the Declaration click on the following link:

OECD Guidelines

The OECD Guidelines establish voluntary policies that promote corporate transparency and accountability worldwide, specifically addressing disclosure of material information, employment relations, environmental management, bribery, competition, consumer interests, and science and technology diffusion.  Observance of the Guidelines is encouraged and facilitated by OECD member governments through National Contact Points (NCPs). NCPs are offices supported by each member country to gather information on experiences with the Guidelines and assist in solving problems. While the OECD Guidelines recommend principles and standards for multinational enterprises, they do not prescribe precise ways in which to measure and report actual behaviour.

For more information go to:,2688,en_2649_34889_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

The Guidelines constitute a set of voluntary recommendations to multinational enterprises in all the major areas of business ethics, including employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, combating bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition, and taxation.  Adhering governments have committed to promote them among multinational enterprises operating in or from their territories.  The instrument’s distinctive implementation mechanisms include the operations of National Contact Points (NCP), which are government offices charged with promoting the Guidelines and handling enquiries in the national context.  Adhering countries comprise all 30 OECD member countries, and nine non-Member countries ( Argentina , Brazil , Chile , Estonia , Israel , Latvia , Lithuania , Romania  and Slovenia ).  The eight MDGs focus on the greatest challenges of our time, such as the elimination of hunger and poverty, and represent a broad consensus on clear, measurable and time-bound goals.  For more information go to:

Global Compact

In an address to the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, United Nation Secretary-General Kofi Annan challenged business leaders to join an international initiative – the Global Compact – that would bring companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles.  The Global Compact principles derive from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Principles of Rights at Work, and the Rio Principles on Environment and Development.  The UN Partners working with the UN Secretary General to implement the Global Compact are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The UN states that in this way, the private sector – in partnership with other social sectors – can help realize the Secretary-General’s vision: a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.  The Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative with two objectives:

  • Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world
  • Catalyze actions in support of UN goals

For more information go to:

AA1000 Assurance Standard

This standard has been developed by Accountability, a UK-based organization.  Launched in 1999, the AA1000 framework is designed to improve accountability and performance by learning through stakeholder engagement. It was developed to address the need for organizations to integrate their stakeholder engagement processes into daily activities. It has been used worldwide by leading businesses, non-profit organizations and public bodies. The Framework helps users to establish a systematic stakeholder engagement process that generates the indicators, targets, and reporting systems needed to ensure its effectiveness in overall organizational performance. The principle underpinning AA1000 is inclusivity. The building blocks of the process framework are planning, accounting and auditing and reporting. It does not prescribe what should be reported on but rather the 'how'. In this way it is designed to complement the GRI Reporting Guidelines.

For more information go to:

The London Benchmarking Group

Founded in 1994, the London Benchmarking Group consists of leading international corporations who have come together to manage, measure and report their involvement in the community.  The London Benchmarking Group has established a Model to categorize and measure the three categories into which different forms of community involvement can be classified: charity donations, social or community investment and commercial initiatives.  These are contributions made over and above those that result from the basic business operations.

The distinct categories are defined to measure how the motives behind community involvement can impact on a business.

  • A charitable gift is given with minimal concern for a return to the business - it is seen as the right thing to do.
  • A community investment strategy is carefully structured and focused by the company to secure some long-term returns to the business.
  • A commercial initiative in the community must give a direct competitive advantage to the company.
  • The business basics category helps clarify the distinction between commercial initiatives in the community and everyday activities of a company. These are reported separately and not evaluated as part of the LBG model.

For more information go to:

Government of Canada Sustainability Tool Kit

On November 12, 2003 , the Government of Canada announced a new initiative on corporate sustainability reporting that will challenge Canadian businesses to report on their social and environmental practices and performance.  "Sustainability reporting is a powerful tool for decision-making that will allow investors, employees, consumers and regulators to make informed decisions," said Minister Anderson. "Already, over 80 Canadian companies are demonstrating their leadership in sustainability by producing these types of reports."

For more information go to:

For more information on the tool kit itself go to:

Other Corporate & Social Responsibility Links and Resources

The Cone Report, an American is another compelling source for the business case for corporate social responsibility. The survey reports that:

  • 77% of respondents believe that "companies have a responsibility to help support causes" through charitable donations.
  • 92% of respondents say corporations should be more socially responsible.
  • 90% said they might stop purchasing goods and services from a company that did not have a good record of social responsibility.
  • 87% of respondents said a company could earn their trust by donating to charity.
  • 43%reported buying a product from a company in the last 12 months after hearing about its commitment to a social cause.

For more infromation go to:

Corporate Knights conducts an annual ranking of Canada's best corporate citizens. In their 3RD report Zenon Environmental was ranked number one overall. The Best Employer Corporate Citizen Award went to Dofasco, while Telus won the award for Best Environmental Corporate Citizen. Aliant was recognized as the Best Community Corporate Citizen, and Alcan earned the award for Best International Corporate Citizen. For more information go to:

The Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (CCP) recently launched a new initiative as part of its Imagine program. EMAGINE asks entrepreneurs and investors to make a commitment of a minimum of one to five percent of their future profits to the charity of their choice. The initiative is modeled on the framework of the Imagine one percent commitment, which now includes 550 corporations that have pledged to give one percent of their pre-tax profits to charity. For more information go to:

Conversations with Disbelievers also helps make the case for corporate responsibility. For more information go to:

The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College is another excellent resource for corporate social responsibility. For more information go to:

The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) encourages high standards of corporate social responsibility, business behaviour and the sharing of best practices. For more information go to:

Transparency International is an international non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption which seeks to bring civil society, business, and governments together in a powerful global coalition. For more information go to:

The Caux Round Table (CRT) is an international network of principled business leaders working to promote a moral capitalism.  The CRT advocates implementation of the CRT Principles for Business through which principled capitalism can flourish. For more information go to:

Other Business Sustainability Best Practices Links

Nova Scotia CBSC - Sustainability Reporting Toolkit

Government of Saskatchewan Sustainability Reporting Toolkit

Canada 's National Contact Point (for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises)

Canadian Businesses Encouraged to Report on Environmental and Social Performance

CEI Corporate Environmental Innovation - Environment Canada 's Corporate Environmental Innovation Website

IISD Compendium A Global Directory to Indicator Initiatives - Measurement and Assessment

Welcome to Stratos - Strategies to Sustainability

International Trade Development and Society

UWO - Sustainability Reports

Other Business Codes & Principals of Ethical Conduct Links

Center for Ethics and Business

Codes Of Ethics Online

Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, IIT

The Ethics In Action Awards

UN Global Compact

Center for Ethics and Business

Ethikos A Business Ethics Publication

Business Ethics Forum

ATLIKA Business Ethics

Paths to Equal Opportunity Codes of Business Ethics

Ethics Toolkit Code Construction, Form and Content

Codes of Ethics Online - Other Resources

EDC - Publications - Brochures - Code of Business Ethics

How to Write a Code of Ethics

Institute of Business Ethics Code of Ethics

Institute of Business Ethics Codes of Conduct Case Studies

Paths to Equal Opportunity Codes of Business Ethics