News from Oct 17, 2014
Die Konferenz widmet sich den Herausforderungen, denen Unternehmen im Rahmen ihrer Corporate-Responsibility-Aktivitäten im heutigen Russland gegenüberstehen. Im Mittelpunkt stehen die Kooperation zwischen Staat, Wirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft und die Notwendigkeit moderner Ge-ellschaften, eine nicht-hierarchische Governance als Antwort auf den gesellschaftlichen Strukturwandel zu praktizieren. Für den Staat eröffnet die Zusammenarbeit mit relevanten Stakeholdern die Möglichkeit, sich in einer zunehmend komplexen Umwelt Informationen zu beschaffen, passgenauere Problemlösungen auszuarbeiten und die Akzeptanz politischer Entscheidungen zu erhöhen. Internationale Akteure, wie Handelsunternehmen, Banken und Investmentfonds, fordern ebenfalls eine Öffnung gegenüber Stakeholdern, um ihre Aktivitäten umwelt- und sozialverträglich zu gestalten. Auch in Russland finden international anerkannte CR-Standards Anwendung auf nationale wie internationale Unternehmen.
Die Konferenz zielt auf einen Austausch zwischen Wissenschaftlern unterschiedlicher Fachdisziplinen und Stakeholdern, die Erfahrungen aus der unternehmerischen und politischen bzw. administrativen Praxis mitbringen.
Prof. Dr. Sabine Kropp, Prof. Dr. Thomas Poguntke, Dr. Johannes Schuhmann
20./21. November 2014, Haus der Universität, Schadowplatz 14, Düsseldorf
From 19 to 21 November 2014, an international conference on governance and corporate responsibility in Russia was held in Dusseldorf by the Party Research Institute (PRuF) and the Freie Universität Berlin. The conference was part of a METRO GROUP funded research project on "Regulation by law and social institutions in Eastern Europe", which has successfully been implemented from 2007 until 2011 at the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf. The event has been organized by Prof. Dr. Sabine Kropp (Chair of German Politics ar Freie Universität Berlin & head of the METRO GROUP funded research project), Prof. Dr. Thomas Poguntke (Chair of Comparative Politics & Director of PRuF) and Dr. Johannes Schuhmann (Research Fellow at PRuF & Director, ESG Evrazia).
The conference focused on corporate responsibility challenges that companies face in contemporary Russia. It examined the cooperation and coordination between the state, business and civil society, and the need for modern societies to practice horizontal governance in order to address new societal challenges. The following topics were at the core of the conference:
The conference facilitated an interdisciplinary exchange of expertise between academics and practitioners from business, state and civil society. The following experts took part in the panels and working groups:
Company presentations demonstrated significant progress in many areas of CR practices in Russia, ranging from labour aspects, HSE, social investments, stakeholder engagement and non-financial reporting to sustainable supply chain management. Generally accepted international principals and standards like the UN Global Compact, GRI guidelines, ISO 26000, AA1000, ISO 14000 are used for fundamental guidance at Russian companies. Many business leaders increasingly view CR as the foundation for an effective business strategy, which includes constructive communication with stakeholders and a system of non-financial risk management.
Cross-industry studies on the implementation of non-financial risk management and reporting, however, reveal that progress varies considerably from industry to industry, with oil, gas, power generation, ferrous metallurgy, mining and forestry being among the leaders. Environmental management, environmental impact and general transparency also differ between state and private companies. Although a government decree requires 22 state companies to publish sustainability reports, only half of them comply with it. Among those, only a few provided reports in accordance with GRI G3.1. However, some of the state companies, e.g. Gazprom and Rosneft, turned out to be among the best performers in disclosing CSR indicators. The speakers also highlighted differences over time. While interaction between business and NGOs was weak and often a source of conflict in the 90s and early 2000s, dialogue has become increasingly constructive since the mid 2000s. Environmental NGOs fought hard to appear on the companies’ stakeholder maps, and first needed to acquire a reputation as partners in stakeholder dialogues. Some of them have now entered the stage of in-depth stakeholder engagement.
It has also been stated that corporate responsibility and cooperation with key stakeholders partly compensate for weak state governance, particularly in the sphere of environmental protection, filling gaps in state regulation and reducing corruption, for example. The main drivers of CR are found in the demands of the global economy as a result of international banks and supply chains, civil society pressure as well as the need to mitigate political risks. Different exposure to these factors explains to a large extent the identified variations between industries. The presentations and discussions also highlighted plenty of challenges, e.g. with respect to education in the field of CR and sustainable development, the openness of the state towards business and the transparency of interactions between business and state.
The conference was generously supported by the METRO-Foundation, the METRO Group, the City of Dusseldorf and Dr. Angelika Schwall-Düren, Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media of North Rhine-Westphalia.