The advantages of ‘flexicurity’ and corporate social responsibility (CSR) outweigh the costs of their implementation, as Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Commissioner Vladimír Špidla explains in an interview with EURACTIV Czech Republic. However, he says that the concepts will take more time to become “traditional” policies in central European states.
Corporate social responsibility, says Commissioner Špidla, exists “because business ethics do exist, and doing business in a way that is pitiless towards people or the environment is simply unethical and uncreative. It is not in line with either a modern interpretation of doing business or even the classical basis from which liberal capitalism was built, the so-called protestant ethic. An ethical part is simply there and it is strong. It cannot be underestimated and we cannot ignore it.”
In this way, the commissioner argues, socially responsible behaviour can not only repay the costs of its implementation, but can also give employers a competitive edge, citing the examples of a large supermarket chain that bridged the pay gap between its male and female workers, and a Danish IT firm that reaped huge benefits from employing only autistic people, because of the recognised higher data-handling abilities of people with this condition.
On the combination of flexibility and security in the labour market, Špidla is also convinced that the concept is essential to meeting the demands of our changing societies: “What we must give people in the first place is not the security of having a single job, but a security of career and especially support during a change. This approach is therefore very complex and it requires a certain structure to the education system, a certain structure to on-the-job training systems, flexible but at the same time reliable labour law, and also the modernisation of social security systems to make them effective.”
Concerning the new member states, the EU employment chief believes that “the lack of concensus on the concrete form of their social models” means that CSR and flexicurity will take some time to become “traditional” policies in these countries, but that unspoken agreements on the preservation of social models such as pensions or universal healthcare that already exist in countries such as the Czech Republic prove that their implementation is feasible.