Case in point: CSR in Kazakhstan

Since 2005, under the driving force of its president, Kazakhstan has championed CSR, both nationally and regionally, through the development and implementation of public policies related to CSR. These policies range from public recognition and awards to fiscal incentives for companies that engage in certain government-sponsored programmes and labour law compliance programmes based on international CSR practices.
CSR is defined in the Law on Private Entrepreneurship as “a voluntary contribution by the subjects of private entrepreneurship in the development of society in social, economic and ecological fields’’, and initiatives are, therefore, to a varying degree linked to the core business of companies; some relate purely to external social needs, whilst other initiatives help companies mitigate risk or realise business opportunities. According to the government, the social responsibility of business implies responsibility to employees (social packages for employees and their families, sponsorship, and charity participation in resolving some social problems), consumers, business partners, the local community, and the country as a whole.
Companies practising CSR activities in Kazakhstan can contribute to a number of public policy objectives, such as raising competitiveness of the country by developing skilled and qualified employees, increasing productivity, contributing to the diversification of the economy and gender equality in the labour market, improving public health, supporting the development of entrepreneurship and SMEs, ensuring sustainable development by reducing pollution levels, environmental protection, and introducing a more rational use of natural resources.

To respond to national issues, such as a persisting gap in wages between foreign and local staff (and in particular in the oil and gas industry), the consistently high level of occupational accidents, and few (under 30%) operating collective agreements, the Labour and Social Protection Ministry instituted a code of social responsibility for business. The code combines key internal and external indicators to assess corporate social responsibility in relation to:
• labour security and safety;
• professional, initial and continuous training;
• quota to hire young people (no less than 10%);
• preventive medical services;
• business transparency;
• corporate ethics development; and
• social report development.
Internal CSR indicators are aimed at improving the living standards of employees and their families through collective bargaining mechanisms (according to the Labour Code, the role of trade unions is to serve as public watchdogs in enterprises). They aim to provide full and timely salary payment, social packages, and welfare programmes for employees. On the other hand, external CSR indicators are defined as the funding and building of schools, kindergartens, hospitals, sports facilities, and infrastructure projects.