MAIN MOTIVATORS OF SOCIAL AUDIT: CASE OF ESTONIA
Keywords:CSR, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL AUDIT, MEASUREMENT, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES
In recent years the growing importance of sustainable development has been widely recognized worldwide. Organizations actively implement social and environmentally sustainable work practices in their business strategy. The growing concern from the stakeholders for the transparency and social responsibility has put more focus on social audit as an important tool of measurement of social and environmental performance of organizations. Various studies revealed importance and numerous benefits of social audit in different countries (Berthin, 2011; Ahmed 2012; Brown-Liburd & Zamora, 2014; Casey & Grenier, 2014). However less is known about the social audit in Estonia and this study fills a gap in determining its current stage and perspectives of future development.
The aim of this paper is to identify the reasons why Estonian are not very active in conducting social audit and what would be the main motivators for this procedure. Authors conducted a survey among the largest tax paying companies in Estonia. The questionnaire was sent to 800 companies and 122 responses were collected. Results of the study revealed an interest towards social audit among the surveyed companies however only 15 of them (12%) conduct social audit. In authors opinion the reason of the low number of performing companies is the certain difficulties experienced by companies while obtaining social audit related information.
The main reasons of conducting social audit outlined by respondents were their desire to demonstrate their responsibility towards society (67%) and the opportunity to evaluate the impact of the business activity of the company on different groups of stakeholders (60%); while the main reasons on non-conducting appeared to be lack of information about such opportunity (42%), lack of interest (20%) and lack of popularity in Estonia (28%). The main motivators which would push companies to perform social audit were identified as financial performance-related benefits (41%) and the growing public pressure (44%). The findings of the survey have various implications. First, they emphasize that there is an interest towards social audit among Estonian companies, which will continue growing in the coming years as stated by respondents. Seconds, that more attention and support should be provided from the state and the audit companies to ensure the sustainable development of the Estonian business community.