Introduction and the TRIGOS Rating
A recent study published by Ernst and Young (2011) stated that 80% of top companies in Austria do not report their performance in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. Reports that are published are not well integrated in the annual financial statements and are often not verified by external auditors. However, more and more companies adopt standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and become more and more aware of the importance of these issues.
In identifying businesses that embrace a CSR concept, the TRIGOS award for companies with good CSR offers a well known and reliable source of information. Although Porter and Kramer (2006) criticize Ratings for having widely differing rankings and weightings as well as some natural self selection mechanism, they can be a good starting point for further research. TRIGOS (2006) points out that they assess the business with a very holistic approach, rather than assessing single projects. Their outlined criteria are: Leadership, which means the integration of CSR initiatives on a management level or also referred to as board buy-in. Market, referring to the integration of CSR activities in the supply chain and the relationship with stakeholders. Environment, including quality and scope of activities in reference to the environment (Waste, emissions, resource and energy efficiency). Society, meaning quality and scope of activities in relation to society such as fight against poverty and voluntary commitment. Moreover, actions are assessed according to positive impact, value created, involvement of employees and stakeholders, and degree of innovation. Although, these criteria seem to make sense, there is no description of the actual importance of each factor and, what is even more problematic, only companies that apply at TRIGOS are considered. Another platform for CSR is CCC-Austria.at, which is less well developed, but offers a probably more objective alternative.
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and the Case of Zotter
Following up on class discussions about British American Tobacco‟s school project and taking into regard the seemingly endless accusations against the chocolate industry mainly against Nestlé about using child labour, exploiting third world countries and other unethical activities, there are other companies, which seem to get their presence in the Third World right.
One of them is the Austrian chocolate producer „Zotter‟. The company was awarded with the TRIGOS award in 2006 and a Harvard Business School Case study was written in 2010 about the unusual strategy of the Austrian firm. The company made sustainable production and equitable trading relations with its suppliers their core principles. This is achieved through the establishment of direct relations with farmers and the cutting out of middlemen. The founder, Josef Zotter, travels to supplying countries himself paying his suppliers higher wages and supporting them with...