Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility, which involves voluntarily taking account of social and environmental concerns in daily practices, is starting to develop in Portugal. Organisations are beginning to realise that policies which take account of environmental protection, worker motivation and needs, and involvement with local communities create added value and increase capital.
The Portuguese Quality Institute (IPQ) coordinates the Portuguese Quality System (SPQ). The IPQ’s work includes managing, coordinating and developing the SPQ in order to integrate all the relevant components for improving the quality of products, services, systems and personal qualifications.
The New Portuguese Standard on Social Responsibility (NP 4469) lays down the requirements for a social responsibility management system. It applies to all types and sizes of organisation and can be adapted to various geographical, cultural and social situations.
The law requires businesses to comply with minimum social and environmental rules.
Applying corporate social responsibility
The Portuguese Association for Business Ethics (APEE) has signed an agreement with the IPQ, which recognises its competence to carry out standardisation work in Portugal. As a result, the APEE acts as the Sectoral Standardisation Body (ONS) in the areas of Ethics and Social Responsibility.
In March 2005, the ONS-APEE formed the Technical Committee for Social Responsibility (CT 164) and the Technical Committee for Ethics in Organisations (CT 165).
Certification of standards
Within the framework of the Portuguese Quality System (SPQ), the Portuguese Quality Institute (IPQ), as the National Standardisation Body (ONN), coordinates national standardisation activities, with the assistance of the Sectoral Standardisation Bodies (ONS) recognised for this purpose. The IPQ is responsible for adopting and publishing the Standardisation Programme (PN) and for adopting and approving the Portuguese Standards.
The purpose of standardisation is to develop solutions, by consensus among stakeholders, to problems that arise repeatedly. These solutions form a powerful tool in the self-regulation of active market operators, by simplifying issues and showing legislators when specific regulation is needed in areas not covered by standards.
Quality management standards
The NP EN ISO 9001:2008 standard lays down the requirements for quality management systems in organisations, which must in particular be able to consistently ensure that products and/or services meet customer requirements and comply with applicable regulations.
Environmental management standards
Quality management systems can be certified, in accordance with standard NP EN ISO 14001:2004, by a Certification Body accredited by the Portuguese Accreditation Institute (IPAC), within the Portuguese Quality System (SPQ).
Occupational safety management standards
With regard to certifying occupational health and safety management systems in accordance with international standard OHSAS 18001:1999, which corresponds to national standard NP 4397:2001 , there are currently no Certification Bodies accredited for this purpose by the Portuguese Accreditation Institute (IPAC), within the Portuguese Quality System (SPQ). However, it is recommended that the Certification Bodies indicated in the Directory of Accredited Bodies are consulted.
Businesses that promote products or services with a reduced environmental impact during their whole lifecycle can apply for the EU Ecolabel.
The Directorate-General for Economic Activities (DGAE) is responsible for examining applications and providing a manual to interested parties, which includes forms, general information on the award system, and detailed explanations of each criterion, as well as the evidence to be submitted.
The Discussion and Support Group on Corporate Citizenship (GRACE) is responsible for promoting the concept of corporate citizenship and social responsibility, raising awareness and helping businesses to manage their operations in a socially responsible way, so that we can build a sustainable and fair society.
The APEE seeks to promote Ethics and Social Responsibility in businesses and in other organisations, in order to encourage the corresponding definition and implementation of policies and models of organisational governance that will increase competitiveness and profitability through good management practices, within the framework of the human, environmental and economic sustainability of the development model adopted.
The BCSD – Portugal (Business Council for Sustainable Development – Portugal) publishes practical ideas on corporate social responsibility and organises workshops analysing this issue.
The organisation also has an Internet page on eco-efficiency , with documentation and information on various workshops.
The GRACE – RSE Portugal organisation focuses its efforts on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are regarded as ideal forums for the development of innovative practices.
The Union of Business Associations in the Northern Region (UERN) has developed the environmental project ‘Eco SME’ in order to produce a guide to environmental good practices and a method for assessing eco-efficiency and the implementation of environmental information systems.
In the electronic catalogue of Portuguese standards, available on the IPQ website, the Search/Catalogue facility can be used to search for Portuguese standards and adopted European standards, by using a word in the title, standard number, technical committee or a combination of these as the search criteria.
The IAPMEI project on corporate social responsibility – ‘How to be a responsible SME ’ – aims to develop practices aimed at lifelong learning, gender equality and stable employment. It also includes environmental initiatives and proposals to reduce the exploitation of resources, polluting emissions and waste generation.