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CSR in Hungary: most companies do volunteer projects, employees also love it

The Swedish Chamber of Commerce hosts the first Hungarian CSR Awareness Week from June 28 to July 4.

The event aims to raise awareness of the importance of corporate social responsibility, enable companies to share experiences from their CSR campaigns, and inspire each other to operate in a socially conscious way.

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is a more and more integral part of the economy worldwide. In Hungary, most companies carry out some form of CSR activity. Yet, many companies are ambivalent about the topic: they see it as „something you must do,” but they do not entirely recognize the positive impact of CSR campaigns, including benefits from financial and HR viewpoints. ”For this reason, there is less talk about CSR in Hungary compared to its real significance and this is something we want to change”, says Thomas Straumits, president of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Hungary

On June 28, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Hungary launched an online campaign called CSR Awareness Week to help Hungarian companies organize more effective CSR campaigns both for the communities and the companies. Several Hungarian companies, chambers and organizations joined the campaign, including Advantage Austria, AmCham, Belgabiz, Danish Business Club, Dutcham, CCI France Hongrie, German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, Swisscham, Bridge Budapest, ÖKA, AIPM, HotelHero, HuGBC, LEO FM, National Association of Large Families in Hungary and Single Parents Club Foundation. Other companies can join them using the logotype and the hashtag #csrawarenessweek2021.

Not just for the public

A common misconception regarding social responsibility is that it is essentially just a form of advertising. A survey commissioned by the Embassy of Sweden to Hungary among Hungarian companies shows, CSR campaigns signal to customers and motivates engagement among current and potential employees.

“For us, a critical motivation for CSR activities is to shape the attitude of employees through our activities. (…) We want our employees to recognize where and how they can help in their neighborhood,” said the CSR manager of a German company in Hungary about his own CSR philosophy. A US-based manufacturer said: it is also important for the company to increase the acceptance of diversity within the team and reduce prejudices – the company’s charity programs help this.

Campaigns for equal opportunities and acceptance are also beneficial for employer branding. Experience shows that CSR advocating for people with disabilities, LGBTQs, and other minorities, for example, helps attract more young, open-minded employees to companies and creates a friendlier workplace atmosphere within the company.

Equal opportunities, education, environment

For most people, CSR only means monetary donations which is the most common form of CSR initiatives in Hungary, with about three-quarters having donated money to charitable causes. However, more direct assistance is also common, with 56 percent of companies organizing volunteer work. Moreover, such activity and skill-based volunteering is not perceived as a burden by most employees: only 8 percent of corporate executives said that subordinates are passive regarding CSR work.

Although the CSR campaigns of large companies receive the most publicity in the media, it is worth mentioning that a similar proportion of small and medium-sized companies support charitable causes, usually through local NGOs. Moreover, small businesses often support charities beyond their means compared to their income. One of the reasons we hear little about the CSR activities of Hungarian companies is that very few companies have a separate CSR officer. While a quarter of a multinational company has a separate CSR department, the proportion of Hungarian companies is only 9 percent.

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