TWO CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSABILITY (CSR) SUCCESS STORIES: LA CAIXA AND MERCADONA
At AYMA we work to achieve a balance between a company’s profitability and sustainability. Does the word SAER sound familiar? It stands for socially, environmentally and economically responsible companies. At AYMA we help our clients reach this balance, using CSR strategic management as the key element. Throughout this article, we are going to talk about CSR on a deep level and briefly analyze two success stories.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility? Definition, origin and evolution
To explain what CSR consists of, we have to go back to the 19th century, when capitalism was expanding. Companies were multiplying and therefore, it was necessary to have a certain level of corporate social responsibility given their activities. However, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the concept of CSR emerged in the United States.
In the 70’s many businesses decided to relocate their production and work on a global scale. Doubts then arose among international organizations about how to regulate everything in terms of human rights and worker rights. In the end, organizations started to use a voluntary and self-regulating model called corporate social responsibility.
The idea is for companies to take on a commitment for their actions to contribute to a social, economic and environmental sustainable development for society.
The Green Book defines CSR like this: «Voluntary integration, on the part of the company, of social and environmental issues in their commercial operations and in relationships with their partners».
CSR in Spain: La Caixa and Mercadona
From December 2018 until May 2019, the consulting firm Advice Strategic Consultants analyzed five hundred large companies and systemically important financial institutions of Spain to study their corporate social responsibility. The organizations at the top of the list in this classification are La Caixa, El Corte Inglés, Telefónica, CaixaBank, Inditex and Mercadona.
To carry out this study, eighty-nine experts in CSR were chosen across the country, one thousand opinion leaders, two thousand eight hundred SMEs and self-employed workers segmented by criteria of the National Statistics Institute (INE) and two thousand four hundred people under the Sociological Research Center (CIS).
La Caixa Foundation: CSR leader in Spain
La Caixa Foundation and its Obra Social la Caixa is a leader in Spain when it comes to CSR. According to the abovementioned study, the attributes that lead La Caixa are:
- Help in the fight against child poverty and in third-world countries.
- Promote employment for those in vulnerable situations.
- Support volunteer work.
- Facilitate access to housing.
- Promote arts and culture.
- Assistance for those with advanced illnesses.
- Promote scientific advancement.
«At La Caixa we believe in people, in their capacity to grow, work and overcome adversities. We believe that education, culture and research are the engines of progress. We believe in a society with more opportunities. We believe in a better future for everyone and we work on thousands of projects to build it». That is how the institution presents itself on its webpage.
Since its founding, La Caixa has always been oriented toward social issues. With an annual budget of 540 million euros, the Obra Social is the first foundation in Europe with more than twenty-four billion
euros in assets.
Mercadona: commitment to entrepreneurship
In the study conducted by the consulting firm Advice Strategic Consultants, Mercadona takes the top position from La Caixa in the parameter Promotion of entrepreneurial skills, leadership it shares with Telefónica.
Mercadona follows a management model called Total Quality, which has been in place since 1993. Thanks to this model it satisfies its five interest groups: the boss (client), capital, the worker, society and the supplier. In addition, Mercadona approaches social, labor and environmental aspects and corporate governance from its CSR. Three branches make this food company stand out for its CSR.
- Commitment to the environment.
- Commitment to society.
- Commitment to interest groups: clients, suppliers and workers.
It’s not only centered on the client, whom they call the boss, it is also focused on their suppliers and workers in a very special way. Mercadona buys national products from local suppliers, and regarding employment, it is placed at the top of the list in almost all classifications of happiest places to work, offering adequate salaries, work-life balance, opportunities for promotion and entrepreneurship.
An important role within this CSR is collaboration of social action initiatives, such as donating fresh food –removed from sale– to soup kitchens, or food waste control with internal management tools. Regarding the environment, whose environmental management system is centered on energy efficiency, waste management, optimization of logistics and its efficient store model.
Remember that the CSR Department at AYMA is dedicated to adding value to businesses in the area of sustainability. We help our clients obtain the SAER Seal and track the development of their Annual Action Plans.