AEM - RP - UNDP

UNDP: Helping to integrate Social Responsibility into Romania

What is the opportunity?

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 90% of  European enterprises, thus forming the backbone of the European economy. There is, therefore, considerable opportunity to create value for both businesses and their stakeholders, and society as a whole, through supporting SMEs in creating and implementing sustainable business strategies.

What solution was adopted?

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implemented the European project “Strengthening the capacity of Romanian companies to develop social partnerships” (2011-2013), in partnership with the Romanian Government and the National Association of Romanian Exporters and Importers, and with the technical support of astoneco management. This support included:

  • the co-creation of a framework to support the integration of social responsibility (SR) into business operations – including a series of guidebooks about SR integration models, tools and techniques, and case studies; and  
  • assistance to eight Romanian SMEs over a one-year period to integrate SR into their business operations.

Steps in the assistance project included: help manage the companies’ expectations to see immediate positive results for their businesses as a consequence of SR integration efforts; help people acknowledge and move past the lack of involvement of the central, regional and local authorities in promoting SR and creating a support framework and favourable conditions to encourage SR integration; help the companies integrate socially responsible practices without incurring extra costs (especially important during a period of recession).

Status at the end of the project (closure March 2013):

  • Twelve published case studies on how SR is integrated into companies.
  • Companies facing up to their real impacts and becoming more aware that their SR is about how they operate, not what programs they do. This entails understanding that the company’s SR budget is in reality its turnover, and the resulting innovation can have significant economic rewards.
  • Documented key improvements in the pilot projects included:
    • retention of personnel and increased awareness of individual contribution to the business – which saved cost to business by minimising staff turnover, maximising work productivity, optimising resources,
    • retention of clients and expansion of client base,
    • more efficient operations due to innovations required to incorporate green technologies,
    • becoming aware of the potential of local partnerships to protect and create business value and remove local conflicts that cause downtime.