The Fundamentals Of Corporate Responsibility
Corporate Responsibility (CR) shouldn’t be a stranger to your company. What might be news to you is that there is a benchmarking index. It’s operated by Business in the Community and gives all businesses access to information on the Corporate Responsibility Index.
The index is based from information sourced using an annual survey of members through self-assessment; however, all submissions must be signed at board level ensuring there is director-level involvement and commitment.
Even if you aren’t using the CRI for benchmarking, it’s vital that CR forms part of your internal policies and that those carry over to external partners without conflicts.
That’s when things can get tricky.
At the very least, if your business doesn’t use CRI for benchmarking against best practices, have the board of directors actually on board in annual appraisals of policies.
Responsibility should always be aimed at the highest level in order to trickle down and take affect across the organisation.
The most important aspects in CR Policies
At the heart of CR should always be sustainability across your supply chain. Everything you buy in and all waste going out. Many spend significant amounts of overheads on waste management, yet, not all corporations have criteria and codes of conduct in place for partnering with service providers.
For sustainability to be practiced, it needs traceability as part of your supply chain controls. What comes in and goes out is best managed with partners in agreement to corporate sustainability policies. This can be done effectively by supplying written materials at the tendering process to all suppliers. Audits can form part of agreements to keep your company true to its internal policies.
Of course, waste is only used as an example as there are multiple external suppliers covering everything from telecommunications to print management services.
There’s little point implementing policies internally if partners are brought in doing their own thing.
Today’s consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability and in particular with larger organisations as those have a major impact on all resources.
At the very minimum, there are ten guiding principles that should apply to sustainability policies.
Sustainable-Environment.org.uk summarise those below:
1.Putting people at the centre;
2.Taking a long term perspective;
3.Taking account of costs and benefits;
4.Creating an open and supportive economic system;
5.Combating poverty and social exclusion;
6.Respecting environmental limits;
7.The precautionary principle;
8.Using scientific knowledge;
9.Transparency, information, participation and access to justice;
10.Making the polluter pay.”
There are companies that have heard the consumer voice loud and clear and steered policies directly addressing consumer concerns. One example (of a few) of this is Lush; a company manufacturing beauty products with only natural ingredients. Every product created is accompanied with the employee name that made it, introducing traceability to the process. The policies apply to all partners, so the policies of the brand are the same for external partner policies, ensuring no conflict with internal policies.
Amazon began to take this issue seriously back in 2008 when they first launched the Amazon Certified Frustration-Free Packaging. Today it’s proudly promoted with the slogan “Eliminating Wrap Rage Since 2008”. We’ve all experienced the “wrap rage” at some point with a product, when you can’t get the thing open. This is perfectly captured in the cartoon video.
If you’re unsure about exactly the roles that each team member involved in packaging initiatives should be doing, scout around job search websites.
A sneaky way to discover how big brands handle packaging…
Go to LinkedIn Jobs and run a job search for Product Engineer in the United Kingdom and you’ll be presented with pages of information all filled with core roles, responsibilities and duties you can use for research to determine how your company has their packaging divisions structured, in comparison to other organisations.
Corporations operating without a code of ethics are a disaster waiting to happen. In 1995, Lord Nolan had to spell out The 7 principles of public life:
Naturally, this was set out for the public sector, but it applies equally to the private sector. With services and products often offered at a global level, many organisations apply the minimum ethical standards in accordance with the International Base Code of the Ethical Trading Initiative.
The aim of the ATI is to promote workers rights, establishing fair pay and trade. Organisations don’t have to be trading globally to implement ETI best practices.
For more information on ethical trading, the Trade Union Congress produced a quick-read Guide to Ethical Trade
In many industries, there are bodies that set out clear guidelines to provide consumers with quality assurances. Some are a legal requirement to be associated with, such as the Financial Conduct Authority or any of the many Care Regulators. For many large sectors though, there are other assurance bodies.
.Timber Trade Federation
·Forest Stewardship Council
·British Toy and Hobby Association
·The Lion Mark
·The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply – The Procurement Group is affiliated with the CIPS.
·British Standards Institution
As part of Corporate Responsibility, it certainly helps to bring in outside assistance from organisations leading the way in enhancing industry best practices, applicable directly to your organisation, and helping your policies have weight in the eyes of consumers, partners, and suppliers.
The easiest part is having your procurement team create your Corporate Responsibility Policies. The difficult part is maintaining them as they should be reviewed at annual intervals to ensure partners to your company are in sync and not going to cause embarrassment in the event they’re discovered to be operating in a way that may conflict with your policies.
Responsibility applies equally through association.
Image courtesy of 1stcall-ltd.com.