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How Russian corporate ESG projects are transformed

No more than 1% of representatives of Russian business is engaged in social entrepreneurship, according to the latest estimates. For comparison: in the European Union, social entrepreneurs make up more than 10% of the entire business, or 2.8 million companies, according to the European Commission. Society remembers large and significant social projects of corporations, but so far in Russia they are too few. What will happen to them?

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Heroes of ESG

The abbreviation ESG literally translates from English as “ecology, society and corporate governance, “and in Russia is often called corporate social responsibility. Companies started to pay attention to work in these areas in search of ESG investments: in 2020, 98% of investors, EY survey respondents, said they were looking into the companies’ sustainability rankings. 72% of respondents talked about a separate method for assessing corporate ESG-directions.

Corporate social projects in Russia cover minor impact areas. In 2021, the programs recognized as best in Russia were free children’s cancer insurance from VTB, promotion for single grandmothers and grandfathers “There are no alien moms” from “L’Etoile.” Online retailer “Samokat”, Synergetic brand of eco-friendly products and educational bureau “Teper’ tak” opened a project to learn how to sort garbage. Lamoda Company accepts clothing for recycling. Ozon supports non-profit organizations selling charity certificates, NKO’s products, posts questionnaires of cats and dogs who need support.

At the same time, the potential of this direction is much wider. Non-profit organizations collaborating with big business are developing in Russia. Funds “Volunteers to help orphans”, “Anton is here nearby”, “Arithmetic of good” participate in the organization of charitable sports events, sale products from NCOs, create educational programs – with the support of business. Companies get the opportunity to help a wide variety of people categories. hh.ru, for example, can help in training, career guidance, search work for vulnerable groups: people with disabilities, people with autism, etc. Our company has permanent partners teaching children from foster care. They receive training certificates that can be used during several years. hh.ru also participates in the organization of children’s camps together with NCOs.

How to make the business more sustainable?

Any employer can create a social initiative, for example, by launching hiring people with disabilities. Often employers believe that such applicants may not be able to do their job or are not ready to invest in adapting people with special needs. In Russia in general employers sometimes wary of people with certain features, non-standard needs. Meanwhile, they can be effectively integrated into the business and able to benefit the company.

There are programs for hiring people with disabilities in Auchan, Sberbank, M.Video-El Dorado. There are special agencies for finding employees with disability. It is important for the HR community to be aware of these practices, they are recognized, for example, in the nomination “Equal Opportunities” within the framework of the annual award HR-brand.

The future of the social agenda for corporations

Interest in the social direction of corporate work in Russia can be observed only during most recent years. This trend will continue regardless of changes in the economic situation in the world: a number of the largest Russian companies have already stated that social projects are an important strategic direction for them.

Corporate social responsibility in general helps businesses in the long term to become adaptive, innovative, positive, and better comply with the most stringent modern norms, KPMG analysts say.

By Marina Lobyntseva, Administrative Director, hh.ru

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