In practice, human rights and corporate social responsibility have become an important aspect of business strategies for many companies. The Commission endorses the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, produces guidelines for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and supports projects to pilot a multi-stakeholder approach to CSR in specific sectors.
Human rights are an increasingly important aspect of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (1 MB) define what companies and governments should do to avoid a negative impact on human rights impacts by business. The EU has endorsed the UN Guiding Principles in its 2011 CSR strategy and has committed to supporting their implementation.
For this purpose, a number of guiding materials were published and the development of national action plans was addressed by the CSR peer review process with EU countries.
The Staff Working Document on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – State of Play published in July 2015 presents the EU's activities in implementing the UNGPs and promoting progress in business and human rights.
National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights in EU countries:
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the most common type of businesses in the EU. They may not know or use the term "CSR", but through their close relations with employees, the local community, and their business partners, they often have a naturally responsible approach to business. For most SMEs, the process by which they meet their social responsibility goals is likely to remain informal and intuitive.
The Commission has launched so-called multi-stakeholder projects to pilot an approach involving all relevant stakeholders to CSR in specific sectors: fruit juice, machine tools, and social housing. The stakeholders - industry, civil society, suppliers, and business partners - get together in these projects to identify CSR-specific challenges and come up with solutions.
The Commission has published practical human rights guidance for enterprises in 3 business sectors: