Posted by: Dace Kavasa | 14 January 2011

Estonia ranks companies in 2010. The leading block of questions is … ISSUES MANAGEMENT

You just learned about how Coca Cola HBC Estonia scored highest in CSR index in Estonia in 2010 among 55 participants (see the post from January 6). It did so also in 2007 – when the index was launched and only 14 companies participated. We contacted CSR Baltic in Estonia for more information and a summary of results you can also see on their website

Surprisingly, out of 55 participants of 2010 index only 11 were from the top 100 companies in Estonia. The conclusion of the organizers is rather pessimistic – economic success might not necessarily cause responsible attitude and behavior towards nature and society. Or, could we also say that the companies are careful in publicising their attitudes, since as Coca Cola representative put it – it also brings responsibility, in all business areas.

What is the Estonian Corporate Responsibility index is about?

The index looks at 4 key functions – business strategy, integration of CR principles, issue management and stakeholder reporting and communication. Average score of 2010 participants was 62 points out of 100, where issues management received highest of 71 % and progress measurement, stakeholder relations & communication lowest average of 48%.

Why would the scores differ between these two blocks of responses so much?

Issues management block receiving 71%  score looks at specific questions on community, environment, workplace and marketplace.

Community block focuses on specific activities chosen by the company, ability to communicate with stakeholders relevant for these activities and involvement of employees in volunteer activities for local community. My experience in Latvia shows that companies, regardless of their size, get involved in local charity projects, thus scoring high on this point would be relatively easy. Support for employee involvement in voluntary activities though lags behind and communication in all senses may not be the best trait, as the overall index results indicate.

Environment is the second block requiring to identify 3 key actions, and following with more specific questions regarding energy conservation, waste management, recycling, pollution prevention, carbon footprint calculation, sustainable transport options. There are a number of ways and examples of how to measure footprints and having a relatively developed national waste management system also helps companies.

I particularly welcome the supply chain question– “Has your company set environmental requirements/standards to its product/service suppliers?” – that goes well with the UN discussions on spheres of influence and accordingly also responsibility. In our CSR seminars in Latvia, when companies are asked about ability to impact supply chain the initial answer is 50/50. Once we discuss the link back to values and strategies of companies and means of influencing partners, the business representatives rise the influence bar to 70%.

Workplace questions relate to personnel development (long term and skills focus), particular involvement of specific groups and equal opportunities policies, level of involvement of employees in decision making, work-life balance policies, and securing health & safety.

What is interesting that the focus is more on “soft” issues, rather than well regulated health & safety issues that companies should implement by law anyway. Organisers recognise that it is still difficult to integrate principles of corporate responsibility among their employees, nevertheless this is should point out to businesses that participation, involvement of staff and communication are a success factors to other business activities.

Finally, marketplace questions received highest points and Estonian companies seem to have decent competitive ethics, fair advertising & labeling/information practices. Another interesting aspect that differs from Latvian index – Estonian companies had to consider answer to question whether the CSR activities help their innovation processes. Corporate Social Responsibility and increased innovation have been linked in other counties, with governments supporting, for example in Denmark (http://www.csrinnovation.dk/sw56211.asp), taking active steps in this direction. Maybe Estonia will be following the same steps?

Latest information on CR Index in Estonia see on http://www.csr.ee/10342 and you can access the questionnaire on the same website http://www.csr.ee/7518.

Keep tuned in – we will continue with the CR Index in Estonia – and information on 2010 index in Latvia should also come out soon.

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