Volvo’s CSR expert speaks up
What actually is CSR – corporate social responsibility? Is it important for large companies like the Volvo Group – and is it not just another word for giving money to charity?
“No,” says Malin Ripa, the person responsible for Volvo’s CSR work at Group level. “It is instead a question of contributing to positive, sustainable development for society within the scope of a company’s business operations.”
Malin Ripa explains that company strategies for CSR programmes are becoming increasingly important for business, for investors and for a company’s other stakeholders, but that there is still uncertainty about what CSR actually means.
“Many people think it’s the same as charity and, even if it can involve helping with social problems, it has absolutely nothing to do with charity,” says Malin Ripa.
Instead, she defines CSR as an attitude. It means understanding that a company is not an isolated island, but that companies like the Volvo Group interact with a number of different stakeholders. CSR enables companies in an overarching manner to contribute to sustainable development, make a positive contribution to society and understand how the entire chain, from suppliers to customers who actually use the products, impacts the world.
“The basis of every CSR programme is credibility. We need to act in a credible way in our dealings with employees, customers, politicians, owners and the media. At the very least, we need to comply with our code of conduct,” says Malin Ripa.
“We need to know where in society our operations are associated with risks. In some countries, corruption may be the greatest risk, in others an inferior working environment. When we act in countries that don’t comply with human rights, we have to assess the risk to ensure that our business doesn’t make the situation worse and that we follow the standard in our code of conduct.”
The next step in the CSR programme is to create a value not only for the owners but also for society.
“This leads to local development, good relations with stakeholders and employee engagement,” adds Malin Ripa, “the Volvo Group understands some areas much better than others – they include traffic safety and the environment. We must focus our efforts on the areas in which we can create business value and social value at the same time and kill two birds with one stone.”
Sustainability is one of the overarching targets when it comes to CSR. As far as the Volvo Group is concerned, this means working to find sustainable transport solutions, to trigger discussions and put the questions on the agenda of other stakeholders.
“On a number of occasions, the Volvo Group has presented concrete examples of sustainable transport solutions, as well as its solutions for carbon-neutral transport. This is completely in line with the Group’s new vision of being the world leader when it comes to sustainable transport solutions,” says Malin Ripa.