Public Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Workshop

On Tuesday 10th September 2019, 23 State Bodies and 10 Government Departments came together for the first ever Public Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Workshop. Kindly hosted by the Central Bank of Ireland, the workshop was organised by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) and the CSR Stakeholder Forum in partnership with Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI). ‘Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020 aims, over three years, to position Ireland as a ‘Centre of Excellence for responsible and sustainable business practice through the adoption of best practice in CSR’. Implementation of the Plan is led by the CSR Stakeholder Forum and CSR in the Public Sector is an important theme in the Work Programme for the Forum.


In 2019 the Forum established a CSR Public Sector Network which brings organisations from across the public sector to share experiences and knowledge. The Network identified that there was a need to bring organisations together to encourage discussion and explore practical ways for how public sector organisations can develop and sustain CSR activity. Business in the Community Ireland, worked with the Public Sector Network and DBEI to develop a expert workshop to provide an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning for Government Departments, Agencies, offices and State Sponsored bodies.


Bernard Sheridan, Director of Corporate Affairs, Central Bank of Ireland opened the workshop by talking about how the Central Bank have incorporated CSR into the heart of their organisation and the steps they have taken to become the first public sector organisation to achieve the BITCI Business Working Responsibly Mark. Dr Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Head of Public Service Reform, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform presented on Our Public Service 2020 and how CSR sits at the heart of the Reform initiative and can help to drive it forward.


Deborah Dignam, Assistant Principal, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation spoke about ‘Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020 and the CSR initiative under the DBEI Innovation programme. Alexa Toomey, Project Lead of the Public Sector Network and Senior Adviser Enterprise Ireland shared her experience of the benefit of the Network and provided an overview of Enterprise Ireland’s CSR Strategy. BICTI, facilitated a lively interactive session, Strategy Development and chaired a panel session with Gas Networks Ireland and EirGrid.

Speakers outside Central Bank of Ireland

Pic Above L-R: Bernard Sheridan, Central Bank of Ireland; Alexa Toomey, Enterprise Ireland; Dr. Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Deborah Dignam, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Céline McHugh, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Bernadette Phelan, Business in the Community Ireland.

All public bodies exist to provide a service to the public and/or communities and are responsible to different sets of stakeholders. The very nature of public service reflects many principles of social responsibility – accountability, transparency, response for differing stakeholder’s interest. CSR provides an opportunity to add value to this core mandate, through the partnerships it can create and through the enhancements to performance that CSR can bring when public sector bodies consider the role of CSR as organisations in their own right.

Crowd at Workshop

Pic Above: Attendees at Public Sector CSR Workshop


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The European Commission defines CSR as ‘the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society’. CSR includes voluntary initiatives or practices that a business or organisation engage in which go “beyond compliance”.


National Plans on CSR (April 2014 and June 2017)
As part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, the Government undertook to publish a National Plan for CSR. The First Plan ‘Good for Business, Good for the Community’ was published in 2014 and aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of CSR to Business and all stakeholders in society. The Second Plan ‘Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017-2020 was published by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) in June 2017. The Plan aims, over three years, to position Ireland as a ‘Centre of Excellence for responsible and sustainable business practice through the adoption of best practice in CSR’. It focuses on four dimensions - Workplace, Marketplace, Environment and Community and identifies seventeen actions. The actions are implemented by DBEI via the CSR Stakeholder Forum. DBEI provides secretariat to the Forum. The Plan also highlights the link between CSR and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


CSR Stakeholder Forum
The CSR Stakeholder Forum is a voluntary Body and its membership comprises of representatives of the business sector, key Government Departments and agencies and the wider community. Minutes of CSR Forum meetings are available on csrhub.ie.


Download a copy of the CSR Check 2019 here.

CSR Check 2019


CSR Network
The CSR Network is an informal network that provides an opportunity for businesses and organisations active in CSR to support and stay in touch with Forum activities.
CSR Network member organisations attend the annual CSR CEO/Leaders’ Breakfast Meeting, and network members contribute to the library of Case Studies on csrhub.ie by submitting a completed case study on their CSR activities using the case study template. For more information on the CSR Network and to request the CSR Case Study template please email csrhub@dbei.gov.ie 

More information on CSR and the CSR Stakeholder Forum is available at:
Watch our CSR video
Follow us on Twitter @CSRhubIrl
Check out the website for CSR Case Studies csrhub.ie
Subscribe to our newsletter on csrhub.ie

A full Report of the Public Sector CSR Workshop will be available here shortly.