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Shared and differential principles in CSR management



In CSR management, there are both universal principles and special principles.
According to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the formulation of the management system standards is summarized as seven high-level structural elements, which can form into the most primary management cycle. Correspondingly, if an enterprise expects a well-operated CSR management system, it must consider seven principles based on these elements.
We have introduced two out of the seven principles, namely the principle of “three-level responsibility”and the principle of “comprehensive value creation”, and received warm welcome and high attention from many CSR practitioners. What we are reading today is the third principle: shared and differential principles in CSR management.
We hope that the principle can inspire enterprises and help them carry out social responsibility management to enhance comprehensive value.
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The shared and differential principles in CSR management
Enterprises should formulate management measures immediately after identifying the CSR management goal.
This is also what the third element of High Level Structure — “Plan” should focus on. To formulate CSR management measures, enterprises must consider and follow shared and differential principles.
The Clause Four of ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility — Principles of Social Responsibility clearlypoints out that “Organizations should base their behavior on standards, guidelines or rules of conduct ”, which means that while standardizing corporate behaviors and formulating CSR management measures, enterprises should take standards, guides or codes of conduct as reference. It also indicates that “In applying this International Standard it is advisable that an organization take into consideration societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political and organizational diversity, as well as differences in economic conditions, while being consistent with international norms of behavior.
As a part of ISO 26000 general principle, Clause Four highlights ISO 26000’s wide applicability among organizations of different sizes and types, and at different development levels and stages in CSR management, showing the general applicability of the standard.
In the process of compiling ISO 26000, the General Provisions of Clause Four adds the content related to differentiation under the suggestions from Chinese experts. Organizations must consider their practical situations, the social environment and economic conditions of their operation to further improve CSR performance.
In fact, this principle is not only applicable to enterprises while applying ISO 26000 (that is, enterprises should comply with the basic principles and philosophies of various standards when they formulate social responsibility measures), but should consider the enterprises’ practical situations. 
Since 1990s, CSR standard system has been gradually formed from CSR campaign. It includes aforementioned ISO 26000, and other CSR principles, regulations, standards and guides.
They can be further categorized into (1) conventions, principles and initiatives agreed between governments, (2) rules and standards for industrial production, (3) rules and tools formed among multiple stakeholders with universal applicability, and (4) corporate code of conduct that produces restraint effect on the supply chain in multinational companies.
These rules and standards are common principles and measures for enterprises to formulate CSR management measures.
Besides, based on practical situations, enterprises should analyze the actual or underlying economic, societal and environmental impacts from their decisions and business operation, and society’s expectations to come up with practical and feasible measures to realize their CSR management goals.
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