Timeline–CSR milestones

Year

Milestone

1960s

One of the earliest references to social auditing published in a book by George GoyderThe Responsible Company. He proposes that social audits can act as both useful management tools and offer “stakeholders a platform for challenging and influencing companies.”

1960

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was created, convention signed in Paris, which came into effect September 30, 1961

1966

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the UN

1968

Club of Rome commissions a study of global proportions analyzing the relationship between industrial production, population, environmental damage, food consumption, and natural resource usage

UNESCO provides a forum Conference for Rational Use and Conservation of Biosphere for early discussions on the concept of ecologically sustainable development

1970s

Council on Economic Priorities (along with many others in the USA) began to rate companies publicly on their social and environmental performance

Greenpeace is the first major Non-Governmental Organization to adopt policies which shifted the emphasis towards the corporate sector and away from governments

The United Nation’s Code of Practice for Transnational Corporations attempts to define CSR business principles in terms of ethics, product standards, competition, marketing and disclosure of information

1972

UN holds a Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. The concept of sustainable development is argued in an effort to resolve the ‘environment vs. development’ dilemma

Mid-1970s

Canadian Aboriginal peoples begin to develop CSR agreements with extractive sector companies

1980

The World Conservation Strategy is released by IUCN. The section “Towards Sustainable Development” identifies the major culprits of habitat destruction, and calls for a new International Development Strategy aimed at rectifying the problems

1982

Business in the Community, a membership organisation, is founded by UK based businesses. Their main goal: corporate social responsibility

1984

CSR becomes part of business management theory

1987

The Brundtland Commission publishes report Our Common Future. The report is considered a landmark as it introduces the concept of sustainable development and defines it as: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

1989-1990

In response to the Brundtland Report, Canada establishes the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

1990s

The Canadian Extractive Sector adapts CSR best practices (developed at home) to local communities abroad

1992

"Earth Summit" is held in Rio de Janeiro. The Summit establishes the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, outlining 27 principles supporting sustainable development. They also agree upon a plan of action, Agenda 21, and recommend that all countries put forth national sustainable development strategies

Yet another CSR-focused membership organisation is founded, this time in the US: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)

1993

Canada launches the Whitehorse Mining Initiative (WMI). The WMI was one of the first multi-stakeholder initiatives to officially acknowledge that companies would be forced to deal with sustainable development issues, it was also the first in Canada to establish a sustainable vision for mining

In Vienna, The World Conference on Human Rights is held, highlighting the “right of people to a healthy environment and the right to development"

1995

Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) is founded with the aim of motivating Canadian companies to come together and make powerful business decisions to improve performance and sustainability

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) sets up a permanent base in Geneva. By providing business leadership they hope to inspire change toward sustainable development

1996

The OECD, introduces the concept of environmentally sustainable transportation (EST) 

In January 1996, a group of 57 European companies signed the European declaration of businesses against social exclusion, thereby establishing CSR Europe. Their main goal is “to help companies achieve profitability, sustainable growth and human progress by placing corporate social responsibility in the mainstream of business practice”

1997

A UN conference is held to review the implementation of Agenda 21 (Rio+5). This reiterates that all countries should have sustainable development strategies established - especially by the time of the next review in 2002 (Rio+10) 

The Global Reporting Initiative is launched to develop sustainability reporting guidelines

1998

Canada organizes the multi-stakeholder Lima Workshop on Mining and Sustainable Development in the Americas to discuss mining policies and practices. Those present decided unanimously on a “vision statement” and a plan to act upon it in the near future

1998-2005

Outside stakeholders demand that Canadian extractive companies address the social and economic impacts of their activities. Government is asked to respond

1999

January 31, Secretary-General for the United Nations Kofi Annan, in an address to The World Economic Forum, implores business leaders to join the Global Compact; an international initiative that would team companies up with UN agencies to support principles in the areas of human rights, labour and the environment

2000

Canada establishes a National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines

November, an international conference, “Partners for Progress: Towards a New Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility”, is held in Paris at OECD Headquarters

2001

The possibility of an internationally agreed upon standard for CSR is seriously considered. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) puts its Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) in charge of gathering info to decide whether or not a CSR standard is advantageous

2003

Canada plays a major role in enforcing the Kimberley Process’ rules on all participating countries. Launched in May 2000, the Kimberley Process is a diamond certification process aimed at assuring diamond trade does not fund violence

In May, a corporate social responsibility study is released by a joint Federal Government Working Group examining the best practices of 10 Canadian companies in the CSR "department"

2004

In May, a detailed analysis of the CSR management practices from 53 of Canada’s largest companies is released by the Conference Board of Canada. This is Canada’s first national corporate social responsibility report, entitled Managing Risks, Leveraging Opportunities

2005

On June 22, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) releases the report Mining in Developing Countries - Corporate Social Responsibility

2006

Subsequently, the Government of Canada organized the multi-stakeholder National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Sector in Developing Countries. The Roundtables encouraged a “practical and solutions-oriented dialogue on ways to expand the knowledge and capacity of Canadian companies to conduct their operations in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner”

2007

The National Roundtables Advisory Group makes recommendations to the GOC 

On March 29, the Advisory Group announces its CSR Strategy for Canada’s International Extractive Sector, aimed at helping Canadian companies to meet their corporate social responsibilities when operating abroad

2009

In August, after a very successful introductory meeting of stakeholders in Ottawa the previous month, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metals and Metallurgy (CIM) co-host a second follow-up meeting in Vancouver to develop the Centre for Excellence in CSR

In October, Marketa Evans is appointed as the GOC’s first ever CSR counsellor.