Despite Economic Downturn, Corporate Responsibility Remains High on Business Agenda

Worldwide Global Compact survey reveals much progress, but also serious gaps in corporate efforts to advance corporate responsibility
Jun 14, 2010 8:30 PM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) New York, NY - June 14, 2010 - The financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn appear not to have slowed down efforts to advance responsible business conduct, yet global challenges like corruption or human rights remain neglected. These are among the findings of a global survey among business participants of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative.

A total of 1,044 businesses in 97 countries, representing nearly 20 percent of all Global Compact participants at the time, completed the 2009 Implementation Survey, making it one of the largest, most comprehensive studies on global corporate responsibility implementation. The survey formed the basis for the 2009 Global Compact Annual Review, released today at UN Headquarters.

Among the key findings:

  • Ninety-four percent of respondents said that the relevance of their participation in the Global Compact did not decrease last year in the wake of the economic downturn – with 25 percent considering the initiative more relevant.

  • Overall, only 36 percent of companies report having a corporate responsibility or ethics officer – down slightly from 2008 (39 percent). Among companies with more than 5,000, this figure fell significantly between 2008 and 2009 – from 71 percent to 58 percent.

  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents listed “increasing trust in the company” as a key reason to engage in the Global Compact.

  • While a majority of companies report implementation of key labour (74 percent) and environment (51 percent) policies, human rights (31 percent) and anti-corruption (32 percent) implementation continue to lag behind significantly.

  • On anti-corruption, only 43 percent of companies report having a zero-tolerance policy.

  • Ensuring that supply chain partners adhere to the Global Compact principles is rising on the agenda of companies of all sizes – though it remains a challenge to translate policy into action. 66 percent of companies report considering the issue – with 12 percent requiring suppliers to comply with the Global Compact to be selected as a partner.

  • Half of all respondents report engaging in partnerships linked to development and the MDGs, with projects on the environment, gender equality and poverty reduction being the top areas of focus.

“The findings of this Implementation Survey show that the Global Compact continues to contribute significantly to the diffusion of responsible business practices around the world,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Nevertheless, the survey also shows very clearly that business must do more in critical areas to regain trust and build confidence. In policy and practice, companies of all sectors and sizes must redouble their efforts to protect human rights, fight corruption and advance transparency and accountability.”

2010 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit: Building a New Era of Sustainability

24-25 June 2010, New York

Chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 will bring together more than 1,000 leaders from all sectors to elevate the role of responsible business and investment in bringing about the needed transformation to more sustainable and inclusive markets.

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