Today saw the release of the 2010 UN Global Compact Annual Review and Implementation Survey.
“While the sustainability movement has taken great strides in recent years, significant challenges remain,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.
“Helping smaller companies close performance gaps, stimulating collective action on all fronts and making a stronger case for human rights and anti-corruption engagement will be critical if we are to bring corporate responsibility to scale.”
Compared to around 99% of business being small or medium enterprises ( SMEs) in many developed countries, only 54% make up the participant base of the Compact, and even less, 38% responded to the 2010 survey.
Even though the Global Compact is often about as far away as possible from the innovative and entrepreneurial flavour of Corporate Responsibility / Corporate Sustainability (terms used interchangeably by UNGC) I gravitate towards, I always feel a reassurance from UNGC’s role and Georg Kell’s stewardship at the top of CSR pyramid steering through the treacle-like waters of politics and international bureaucracy.
We all know that smaller businesses aren’t engaging and resources are an issue, don’t we? I personally think that a lack of resources is an stock cop out by too many SMEs. Thought, behaviour change and innovation can be inexpensive and often free.
I have to mention a feeling of unease I felt right at the end of the 12 minute webcast (click on image below) today as Georg Kell asked for questions to be met only with an eerie silence. Was this a demonstration of the lack of support / enthusiasm for UNGC, as the camera panned to show a mere scattering of bashful audience members? It may have been more of an organisational faux pas than my cynical mind created but these are global issues being presented, surely appropriate representation from public and private sectors was the order of the day? Did FIFA organise the tickets?
Here are some of the Survey’s key findings:
- Large and publicly traded companies are performing at higher levels on all of the Global Compact’s issue areas (human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption) than small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), pointing to the availability of greater financial and human resources to support extensive sustainability programs.
- Reflective of the growing relevance of sustainability issues to business performance, more than 70 percent of all respondents indicate the active involvement of their chief executives in policy and strategy development. Nearly 60 percent of all publicly traded companies report active involvement of their boards of directors.
- Companies across the board report having anti-discrimination and equal opportunity policies in place – one of the few issues to transcend size or sector. Yet, less than 20 percent of all respondents report conducting human rights impact assessments and less than 30 percent record instances of corruption, with dramatic differences between SMEs and larger companies.
- Concerning supply chain implementation of sustainability principles, widely seen as critical in order to bring corporate responsibility to true scale, 65 percent of companies report some measure of supplier involvement, with 12 percent requiring their suppliers to be Global Compact participants.
“We can and must shape a future where robust markets, sustainable development and a healthy planet become the new status quo. In this pursuit, the greatest contribution by business is the integration of environmental, social and governance issues into their strategies and operation. The UN Global Compact’s Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership provides a much-needed roadmap for all companies to step-up their work and achieve the next level of sustainability performance.”
– H.E. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General
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