What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility, also known as CSR, is a way of conducting business. It is based on managing the impacts of business activity on customers, employees, shareholders, local communities, the environment and society in general.

Although everyone nowadays is familiar with the term to a greater or lesser extent, it is relatively new. It was born in the 1990s, when globalisation was beginning to expand and revolutionise business models in both developed and developing countries. Globalisation favoured the untying of corporate power to the detriment of the state, the processes of offshoring and the privatisation of basic services. In this situation, the negative impact of some companies, especially multinationals, on social and environmental rights was exposed. 

Basically, Corporate Social Responsibility emerged to lessen this impact on human rights, and to try to reduce human intervention in nature. This is why CSR today covers three main themes: economic, social and environmental. However, if there is one thing that characterises CSR, it is its multidimensional facet, which means that each business is free to apply this form of business management adapted to its capabilities.


SDGs and Agenda 2030

With the aim of joining forces, the United Nations proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and put on the table a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of people around the world. In 2015, these goals were endorsed by all UN member states and included in the 2030 Agenda, a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace and working together.

This agenda not only has 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but also converges 169 targets that seek to eradicate poverty, combat inequality and promote prosperity, while protecting the environment.

Global leaders have already integrated the SDGs into their Corporate Social Responsibility, and many companies have adopted those that best fit their business model. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are:

Source: Pacto Mundial Red Española

CSR and Basetis

Basetis is one of the companies that have chosen to contribute to sustainable development by adopting eleven SDGs out of seventeen. These are:

1.- End poverty.

Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell from 36% in 1990 to 10% in 2015. However, the rate at which this change is occurring is slowing, and the COVID-19 crisis has put developing countries at devastating risk. It is estimated that 55% of the world’s population will have no access to social protection, and the consequences will reverberate throughout societies, affecting education, human rights, and in the most severe cases, basic food security and nutrition.

3.- Health and well-being.

We are currently facing a global health crisis that is spreading human suffering, destabilising the world economy and dramatically changing the lives of millions of people. Before the pandemic, giant strides were made in improving the health of many people, increasing life expectancy and reducing some common causes of death associated with infant and maternal mortality. Now, the problem has diversified on two fronts: improving general health and well-being, as well as dealing with the coronavirus.

4.- Quality education.

Education is one of the fundamental pillars for establishing good and productive societies. Despite the progress that has been made in expanding access to education (especially for girls), 260 million children were still out of school in 2018. With the arrival of the coronavirus and the temporary closure of schools, 91% of students were affected, and 369 million children who rely on school canteens had to seek other sources of daily nutrition.

5.- Gender equality.

Gender equality is a fundamental right to build a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. In recent decades, progress has been made in getting more girls into school, reducing child marriage, and getting more women into leadership positions. Yet the coronavirus pandemic may reverse the few gains that have been made towards gender equality, and even exacerbate existing inequalities.

8.- Decent work and economic growth.

Inclusive and sustained economic growth can drive progress, create decent jobs for all and improve living standards. The economic health crisis caused by the coronavirus has disrupted millions of lives, and the ILO (International Labour Organisation) estimates that nearly half of all workers are at risk of losing their livelihoods.

9.- Industry, innovation and infrastructure.

Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, together with good innovation policy and infrastructure, can help create dynamic and competitive economies that generate employment and income. Yet the current pace of development has slowed down in recent years, preventing developing countries from prospering and introducing new productivity-enhancing technologies.

10.- Reducing inequalities.

Ensuring that no one is left behind is part of achieving the SDGs. Inequality within and between countries is a continuing concern. While there are some positive indicators that these gaps are narrowing, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified existing inequalities and affected the most vulnerable people and communities. It has exposed economic inequalities and fragile social safety nets, and these groups have been hit harder by the crisis.

12. Responsible consumption and production.

Consumption and production are the driving forces of the global economy, and depend on the use of the natural environment and resources in a continuous way that has destructive effects on the planet. For example, every year an estimated one third of the food produced (1.3 billion tonnes, worth close to a trillion dollars) ends up rotting in the trash of consumers and retailers. Sustainable consumption and production is about doing more and better with less, as well as decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, increasing resource efficiency and promoting sustainable lifestyles.

13. Climate action.

Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather systems are changing, sea levels are rising and weather events are becoming more extreme. For example: 2019 was the second warmest year ever, and marked the end of the warmest decade on record. Although the coronavirus has forced us to slow our movement, causing greenhouse gas emissions to fall by up to 6% by 2020, urgent action is needed to address the climate emergency in order to save lives and livelihoods.

16.- Peace, justice and strong institutions.

Conflict, insecurity, weak institutions and limited access to justice continue to pose a serious threat to sustainable development. In 2018, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million, the highest number ever recorded by UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), and the UN recorded 357 killings and 30 enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists.

17.- Partnerships to achieve the goals.

Successful implementation of a development agenda requires inclusive partnerships based on principles and values, as well as a shared vision and goals that focus first on people and planet. Many countries require assistance to promote growth and trade, yet aid from donor countries is declining because they have not honoured their commitment to increase development financing. In addition, the global economy is expected to contract as a result of the coronavirus, creating the worst recession since the Great Depression. In order for countries to recover, strong international cooperation is needed.


In the next #ODS and #PushingSocialChange series of the blog, we will be explaining each Sustainable Development Goal that is part of our CSR in detail with information such as: the current situation in the world, what actions the UN is taking and what can be done individually, links to partner initiatives and the Basetis action plan for that SDG.

Did you know about the Sustainable Development Goals and that Basetis is working towards the 2030 Agenda?


Information sources:

Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa. ¿Qué es la RSC? Sitio web: https://observatoriorsc.org/la-rsc-que-es/

Naciones Unidas. La Agenda para el Desarrollo Sostenible. Sitio web: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/es/development-agenda/

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