CSR in the Public Sector
The public sector has a number of distinct roles to play in the CSR agenda:
- Endorsing and supporting the concept of CSR in enterprises
- Adhering to good CSR practice in its own operations
- Relevant regulatory roles
The public sector delivers many services in the community and environment and has various regulatory roles. These are part of their policy remit and separate to CSR activity. All public bodies exist to provide a service to the public or communities. They have a complexity and variety of functions, but all provide a service and are responsible to different sets of stakeholders. The very nature of public service reflects many principles of social responsibility – accountability, transparency and respect for differing stakeholder's interests.
The public sector also has a leadership role to ensure that its own way of operating is in line with good CSR practices in its multiplicity of roles as employer, purchaser, service provider, and in its engagement with communities.
The public sector also has various regulatory roles that are relevant to CSR. Many of the recommendations outlined in international CSR frameworks are already embedded in national legislation and policies and therefore are often not regarded as CSR activities by companies, given their legislative basis. Examples include Employment and Equality Rights legislation, Company Law. Once legislative and regulatory frameworks are in place, the Government has the continuing role of monitoring their implementation, ensuring that breaches are dealt with properly, and offering opportunities for redress for those who are impacted when the statutory requirements are not complied with.
In the National Plan on CSR the Government has articulated its policy direction and support for CSR. Through the representation of relevant public bodies on the CSR Stakeholder Forum the State is helping to raise the profile of CSR in the public sector as well as encouraging its proliferation across all industry, irrespective of size and sector.
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