Businesses in the light of digital transformations
At the same time a technical transformation, a strategic challenge and a human upheaval, digital technology generates new risks to be apprehended and new opportunities to be explored. Considered as one of the assets of the economic recovery plans following the Covid-19 health crisis, it must be part of companies' CSR strategy.
Faced with the amount of data generated by the digital transition, companies today have a fourfold responsibility in the control of this data and its protection, legal, managerial and ethical. The CSR Platform has noted that while legal responsibility is framed by the law, all the risks and responsibilities raised by digital technology are not covered by CSR practices, while its use raises significant questions about its social, environmental and societal impacts.
This is why the CSR Platform proposes a definition of Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR), which reads as follows:
CDR is a new and unavoidable extension of CSR, which is based on the same principles of trust, accountability, ethics and exchanges with companies stakeholders. The cross-cutting nature of digital technology and its omnipresence mean that the value creation it generates must be understood and shared by all, with regard to democratic, social and societal issues. It is a question of trust, a trust that needs to be renewed in view of the constant changes in technology.
The CDR operates in many fields related to the use of computer and digital resources available to companies. A digitally responsible company should thus respond to several major challenges, in line with the objectives of sustainable development:
- regulatory responsibility, linked to data protection and compliance with the GDPR and sectoral regulations;
- ethical responsibility, linked to artificial intelligence (AI) software;
- societal responsibility, related to data management, the transformation of working methods, the type of data sharing and the inclusion of all;
- environmental responsibility, related to the use of data in considering the environmental impacts of business activities.
The CSR Platform first focused on identifying the responsibility of companies with regard to the data they collect, manage, store and process. This report is the first in a series of reports dedicated to the digital responsibility of companies, so the profound changes concerning work, the relationships between employees, managers and stakeholders, and the notorious increase of the environmental footprint by digital technology will be studied later.
Digital and CSR, two sectors that must be applied together in the company
The notion of "corporate digital responsibility" (CDR) is still underdeveloped in France and is proving to be fundamental. Data protection, which is highly regulated by law, is a major issue for companies in terms of competition and the protection of human rights, corporate value and the evolution of business models, and is part of a responsible approach to employees, stakeholders, customers and users.
However, it is clear that, even if the digital transition is now impacting all companies, digital issues are not integrated into CSR strategies, and vice versa. The hearings conducted within the framework of the CSR Platform working group and the analysis of the legislative texts in force show the regrettable lack of coordination between digital and CSR. The members of the CSR Platform can therefore only recommend coordination between these two policies and liaison between the departments responsible for them.