Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a process within companies which incorporate the social interests of society and the importance of the environment considerately and sustainably into their entrepreneurial activity. Their actions represent voluntary contributions which go beyond any legal obligations included in domestic or international rules and regulations. The fact that this approach bolsters company credibility and acceptance is reflected in increased demand from customers.
CSR is gaining increasing importance in the current context of economic globalization and the knock-on effects thereof on domestic trends. Governments around the world have therefore committed themselves to supporting companies in their CSR efforts by "developing and implementing international agreements, measures, initiatives, partnerships and appropriate national legislation". CSR is also to be understood according to the definition set out by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in ISO 26 000 "Guidance on Social Responsibility", which provides both commercial enterprises and organizations in general with guidelines on the implementation of the concept of social responsibility as a process.
The principles of socially responsible action are being translated to the framework conditions which characterize the work of social organizations, and more specifically to the observance of human rights, working and employment conditions, environmental issues, fair competition on global markets, the safeguarding of consumer rights and in turn macroeconomic development. Taking the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises into consideration, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) supports the promotion and dissemination of the principles of social responsibility by spreading awareness and understanding of ISO 26 000. Though companies are to be encouraged to commit to social responsibility, developments in this field are not to lead to a scenario in which new certification procedures are set for international norms even though the standards they are based on have already been adhered to for some time.