Spain launches declaration on corporate social responsibility
Dircom has released the ‘Madrid Declaration on CSR Communication’, a European-level consensus document. Presented at the 1st European Congress on CSR Communication, the document aims to set the criteria for truthful and transparent communication of CSR, properly aligned to the global business and communication strategy of a company. In this GA News, Montserrat Tarrès, Congress chair and board member in charge of CSR at Dircom, explains more.
- Why a Congress about CSR now? Why has it taken on such importance?
Dircom, the association representing Spanish PR & Communication managers, has been working on CSR for a long time. As the people who deal with intangible assets within a company’s management, we are normally the division were CSR belongs. At the same time, no one understands CSR better than the Communication Manager. He or she is used to thinking long-term and turning the company’s values and vision onto processes. Managing a company’s perceptions by all kinds of internal and external audiences is the essence of our daily work and CSR is increasingly a crucial part of this. Over the last ten years, many congresses on CSR have taken place, as well as corporate communication events, and Dircom just felt it was time to coordinate a continental effort to start a series of annual or bi-annual meetings where the Corporate Communication associations can meet to discuss how CSR is or should be communicated.
- Are there many different perspectives on CSR across Europe?
Well, each participant in the congress has in fact envisaged a specific perspective. While we all put a strong accent into the specific aspects we consider important, there are certainly key topics and views shared by all of us. Our common European heritage makes it easy for us to share and foster the main ideas pertaining to Corporate Responsibility. We all believe in free markets where responsible companies secure their long-term role by being financially, socially and environmentally responsible.
- You agreed the Madrid Declaration on CSR Communication – what is at the heart of that and why is it important?
We thought it was necessary to have a continental document to which journalists, experts and members of our profession can refer when discussing how to communicate CSR. Of course, future congresses built on this one may choose to further develop or to take different approaches. We just thought that a very broad and inclusive document could be a reasonable outcome for this first edition of the congress. When going through the text, the main matters I would like to stress are the importance of a very close connection between CSR and the long-term corporate communication strategy, the need for a sound and comparable reporting through international standards, and the role to be played by governments to foster but not to regulate CSR, so that the public can tell responsible companies from those who aren’t.
- We know that the Minister of the Presidency Ramón Jáuregui is very committed to CSR and made the final keynote speech. What did he have to say to the global community about CSR communication?
His speech was convergent with most of what had been said by many of the speakers. He stressed the fact that the current financial crisis is, among other things, a crisis of reputation, which is the result of lack of responsibility by many, and which certainly has an effect onto corporate communication as such.
- What for you was the highlight of the Congress?
Having so many top communication managers and sister association representatives from around the European Union. We were very satisfied and grateful for their participation, which was higher than expected, not just in number but especially in terms of their deep knowledge and valuable ideas about CSR communication.
- What happens now, how will you build on the Congress?
I think we can say ‘mission accomplished’ when the second congress is organized. Some of the Communication associations in other countries have already expressed their interest in undertaking this task, and we are grateful for their efforts. In the meantime, we are about to publish a booklet with the essays put forward by many of the congress lecturers. And of course, Dircom is always at the disposal of sister association for any bilateral cooperation on this matter.
Montserrat Tarrés is currently board member in charge of CSR at Dircom and the Director of Communication at Novartis Farmacéutica. She is a graduate in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from the Universitat de Barcelona, holds a Master of Scientific Communication (speciality in Medicine) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and a Master in Corporate Social Responsibility from the Escuela Universitaria ESERP de Barcelona, the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and the Institut de Ressources Humanines de Paris.