Update Spring 2012

The Business of Human Rights.

The recent report from War on Want on abuses in factories producing Olympic branded sportswear, highlights not only the role businesses have in protecting human rights, but also the difficulties they face in trying to do so.

As we have seen with the Bribery Act, businesses are increasingly being held responsible not just for their own actions, but for those of their suppliers and other third parties acting on their behalf.

This places considerable importance, not just on having and issuing a code of conduct, but on checking that it covers all that it should and is being properly implemented on the ground.

Most global businesses do have a code of conduct and insist that its suppliers adhere to it. But without regular due diligence checks, they run the risk of exposure and reputational damage, as we have seen with repeated supply chain scandals. Global organisations need to feel reassured that their suppliers will behave in line with company expectations, even when no one is watching.

As global communication becomes easier and more far reaching, this element of risk mitigation will become ever more important.

Michael Littlechild

GoodCorporation launches Human Rights Framework

GoodCorporation has launched a Framework on Human Rights designed to help corporations demonstrate a responsible approach to protecting and respecting human rights throughout their organisation.

Introduced at the most recent GoodCorporation debate at the House of Lords the framework will enable businesses to measure and improve the robustness of their Human Rights policies and systems, providing a blueprint for Human Rights Due Diligence.

Following the methodology of the GoodCorporation Standard, the Human Rights Framework assesses 91 policies and procedures where human rights abuses are most likely to occur. Areas covered by the framework include Forced, Bonded and Child Labour, Discrimination, Workplace Health and Safety, Conditions of Employment Security and Supply Chain Management.

Commenting on the launch of the Framework, GoodCorporation’s Leo Martin said: “From the assessment work that we have conducted for global organisations, we know that due diligence in this area can prove particularly challenging. Our work with businesses has enabled us to develop a framework that will reduce the challenge and facilitate a proper assessment of their human rights position.”

International businesses benefit from GoodCorporation accreditation

FTSE and GDF SUEZ subsidiary Degrémont, the global water treatment specialists, are the latest companies to use their 2011 GoodCorporation accreditation to promote their business principles and code of ethics.

In FTSE’s recent report on the company’s commitment to the UN Global Compact, chief executive Mark Makepiece highlighted GoodCorporation’s audit of FTSE’s internal systems as the means by which the company measures performance against the principles of the UN Global Compact. Full details of GoodCorporation’s assessment are included in the report.

Degrémont features the GoodCorporation accreditation logo on the ethics page of its website to reinforce the company’s commitment to its international Ethics System. Degrémont was the first company in its sector to obtain GoodCorporation’s accreditation.

GoodCorporation defends Health and Safety Legislation

Choosing to repeal legislation that has led to an 80 per cent reduction in work place fatalities would seem an odd political choice.Yet this is what David Cameron has proposed in his bid to “kill off Britain’s health and safety culture for good”.

The UK is rather good at Health and Safety, with one of the lowest fatal injury rates in Europe. And contrary to the statement that Health and Safety is an “albatross hanging round the neck of British Business” that hampers growth, figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that Health and Safety representatives save almost £600m per year based on the reduction in lost time from occupational injury and illness. This is calculated on the reduction of between 286,000 and 616,000 lost days per year.

While no one in business would support unnecessary bureaucracy, much of the hoohah surrounding Health and Safety is more fiction than fact.

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In Brief...

GoodCorporation debate reveals lack of Human Rights Policies 

The latest GoodCorporation debate revealed that few organisations have a specific Human Rights Policy in place or a nominated individual responsible for monitoring their Human Rights impact.

In addition, only a handful of organisations admitted to conducting fact finding exercises to see what was happening on the ground or carrying out risk assessments to identify potential problems.

The debate was held in response to the publication last year, by the United Nations, of John Ruggie’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This stated that businesses have a duty to respect human rights and provide a remedy should violations occur.

Businesses confirmed that the Ruggie report had provided meaningful guidance on how to monitor their human rights impact.

The debate analysed the difficulties businesses face in this area and the steps that can be taken to manage human rights issues within their organisation.

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House of Lords debate: Ethics vs Compliance

Following on from the successful debate in Paris on Ethics versus Compliance, GoodCorporation concluded its debate series for 2011 with a discussion for UK businesses on the same theme.

Representatives were asked if they felt that their business was moving away from compliance and towards ethics or vice versa, with the majority indicating a move towards ethics.

It was suggested that many organisations had focused on compliance as it deals with compulsory processes and is easily measured. However, given the recent ethical failures in a number of heavily regulated industries, it was felt that organisations, particularly those in a global marketplace, needed to instill an ethical code of conduct that would direct behaviour in all areas of the business and in all markets.

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GoodCorporation Welcomes Investing in Integrity

This month sees the launch of Investing in Integrity (IiI), an accreditation system which will enable an organisation to demonstrate its commitment to acting responsibly at all times

Designed to build trust, it is a system that can be applied to organisations of all types and sizes.

GoodCorporation has been appointed by the Institute of Business Ethics and the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment, who developed IiI, to conduct the assessments that will lead to IiI accreditation.

Balfour Beatty and IMI Group have already completed stage one of the management assessment, welcoming the initiative as a vital tool for businesses that enables them to provide assurance of a properly embedded code of ethics.

News and Views

For the latest GoodCorporation views on ethics and responsible practice you can read our thoughts on thegoodblog. We are also on twitter.