Effective business practices that deliver social, economic and environmental gains from the UN Global Compact. News stories lately have been prompting us to think about the ways and means of changing attitudes – community attitudes, workplace attitudes and personal attitudes.
It is possible to change attitudes, as some very successful campaigns have proven. In Victoria, the road toll has been slashed from 1061 (to less than 300); hardly a kid goes outside these days, without slipping, slopping and slapping; and those few smokers still inhaling nicotine have to go a long way from the rest of us, to partake.
In business, too, attitudes are changing – worker safety is paramount; sustainability is important; discrimination is out, women are in; and corruption is being identified, reported and reduced.
But how do we go about achieving those aims?
In Australia, an increasing number of businesses are turning to the United Nations to help them bring about attitudinal change in their workplaces. Specifically, they are signing up to the UN Global Compact, which is just one tool to help effect change.
This compact has ten principles derived from: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
The Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact
The UN explains what’s required – Effecting change begins with your organisation’s leadership. To participate we require a commitment from your chief executive (or equivalent) – with support from the board. This commits your organisation to meet fundamental responsibilities in four areas: human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. All four areas are important; responsible businesses know that good practices in one area do not offset harm in another.
More than 13,000 signatories across 170 countries – including more than 8,000 businesses – agree these principles are important.
In Australia, it seems we are coming around to agree. In 2001 the UN Global Compact had one signatory in Australia. Today, there are 125 Australian- headquartered UN Global Compact signatories, including 80 business/industry signatories.
To support their commitment, business signatories are required to produce an annual Communication on Progress to report on the actions they have taken to align and advance the UN Global Compact’s ten principles.
In this country, the Global Compact Network Australia is the national, business- led network of the UN Global Compact. It brings together signatories to the UN Global Compact – including a number of Australia’s leading companies, non- profits and universities – to advance corporate sustainability and the private sector’s contribution to sustainable development. The network says it “does this through a platform for dialogue, learning and influence that is inclusive, practical and leading edge, supporting our companies’ practical implementation efforts and bringing the UN Global Compact to life in the Australian context and wherever Australian companies operate”.
The network has an Anti-Corruption Leadership Group for Business. It was established in 2011 to provide a forum in which Australian businesses and other stakeholders can explore challenges and best practice on combating bribery and corruption.
Through this group, the network delivers forums and workshops aimed at providing insights into case studies, exploring challenges and engaging collaboratively with government and other stakeholders to provide practical guidance and keep participants up to date with compliance requirements and best practice.
The network now has 67 members including eight of the ASX top 10. Membership includes 50 businesses, three business associations, eight non-profits and six universities.
In Australia the network aims to be the leading driver in the country of effective business practices that deliver social, economic and environmental gains. UN Global Compact leads, enables and connects business, government and civil society to practically apply the principles of the UN Global Compact, according to its mission statement.
CourtHeath is a participant in the United Nations Global Compact. To find out more, please visit us here.