Why Measure Corporate Social Responsibility?

Davos Diary: Friday 22 January

There are buzzwords that come back very often in conversations here in Davos: engagement of the private sector, public-private partnerships, multi-stakeholders partnerships, etc. Indeed, the global economic equilibrium has changed and today's world is more interconnected that ever before. There is no more doubt on the key role of the private sector can play in sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is clear: to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and protect our planet, we need a multitude of partners, including governments, civil society and the private sector.

In 2000, the United Nations launched "the Global Compact". The initiative encouraged companies around the world to adopt a socially responsible attitude, commit to integrate and promote principles relating to human rights, international labour standards and fight corruption. The Global Compact has engaged more than 8,000 companies in 160 countries. Recently, in the context of the COP21 in Paris, many companies have also committed to climate action: to either establish targets to reduce their emissions or to finance the energy transition. Many CEOs have realized that they have a key role to play for climate and for the planet. But also that reducing CO2 emissions will require greater innovations, and therefore more business!

But engaging the private sector is not enough. It must be done with respect for social responsibility and responsible practices. For this, we need to be able to measure the social responsibility of enterprises. That is why I am delighted with today's announcement, in Davos, of the creation of the Global Sustainability Index (GSI). The GSI will make it possible to answer the following questions: is an entity engaged in environment-friendly sustainable practices? Is this same entity supporting social justice and creating a value that benefits the community?

The long term objective is to establish a new standard of social responsibility. The WEF was one of the first organizations to promote cooperation between the public and private sectors so it's no coincidence that the sustainability index is launched during the Davos Forum, with 1500 business leaders present. I and colleagues in the UN family strongly support this timely initiative.

When businesses conduct their activities in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible way, while carefully managing social and environmental risks, it helps them succeed. The benefit is for all: for the local economies and communities, but also for the company itself. Sustainable business is good business!

I am convinced of the need to measure the level and impact of private companies' social commitment. This will give us the means to implement a real global partnership for the achievement of a truly sustainable development.