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Four Essential Steps to Building a Socially Responsible Business: ICL Services' Experience
In 2018, it is very strange to ask questions like "Should a company be socially responsible?" or "What does the company get from this?" The experience of hundreds of companies, from Gazprom to Nestle, shows that your responsibility to society is a prerequisite for long-term and sustainable success.
At the same time, it is more important to answer the following question: "How difficult is it to implement the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) within the company's practices?" Or, if we put in other words: "Where to begin?" If your company has also started implementing CSR practices, our experience may be useful for you.
We are ICL Services, an IT company. We are among the top 100 global outsourcers and provide services to 80+ customers in 30 countries. 1,400+ ICL Services employees work in six offices.
We have repeatedly talked about our experience in the field of corporate social responsibility, including the principles of Realpolitik in CSR and the launch of internal environmental initiatives. And now we want to describe our approaches to the implementation of human rights protection practices within the routine operations of the company. To succeed in this area, we have taken four basic steps.
If you expect employees to share the company's vision of human rights protection, you should at least follow these steps:
- define the company's point of view
- it should be defined so that it is clear and can be decomposed to the daily practices of each employee.
- ambiguously describe the company's hierarchy of values (for example, clearly show what is more important: "to respect basic human rights" or "to perform the task at whatever the cost")
- include all these provisions in a binding and generally available document
As for ICL Services, the principles of respect and observance of human rights, as well as the inadmissibility of getting benefits at the cost of their infringement, are described in one of the corporate policies. This is a high-level internal document which is mandatory. Any order that is contrary to the current Policy can and must be disputed. employees can address all issues related to the Policy adherence to the compliance manager or directly to the company's management. Thus, all employees understand the company's attitude and have everything they need to comply with it in their daily work.
Cooperation with partners who do not share your CSR principles is dangerous for three reasons. First, it can damage the company's image. Second, if your employees systematically observe a partner who violates the CSR principles, they can adopt the worst practices. Third, by choosing contractors who violate human rights, you support them and motivate them to new violations.
To avoid the possibility of such cases, we created the Code for Suppliers and Business Partners. We provide this document and all our contractors must comply with it. If they follow the basic principles of the CSR in the field of environment protection, working with communities and observance of human rights, this Code does not require additional efforts from them and therefore it is unchallenged. But if the counterparty refuses to follow the Code, it is an alarming signal and a reason to refuse to cooperate.
There are mandatory requirements related to observance of human rights: Labor Code of the Russian Federation, as well as other Russian and international laws and regulations. This is the letter of the law. However, the spirit of the law, as we understand it, is different: expand the range of state-provided basic guarantees to the maximum reasonable and feasible from the business point of view. For example, some of the measures we have taken are as follows:
The right for health and well-being. ICL Services provides its employees with private medical insurance, vaccinations, and fluorography. Our employees can engage in competitive sports on specially rented sites for free and receive a partial refund of the cost of gym membership.
The right to professional development. The company pays for external training and certification required to perform professional duties, and also provides access to free internal courses (technical, soft skills, languages). Up to 90% of employees annually use the opportunity to upgrade their skills.
The right to recognition and self-fulfilment. 15+ recognition programs in various fields (from achievements in professional activity to volunteering and mentoring) allow our employees to engage and succeed in the most interesting activities.
Introduction of the CSR practices into company's activities is a project. But this project must eventually become a process that operates on a permanent basis and involves all employees. To do this, you need to lay a solid foundation for the CSR principles of CSR in the form of an unambiguous and clear attitude of the company. In addition, you should do the following:
- monitor compliance with the company's attitude at all levels of the corporate hierarchy.
- deploy feedback channels for consultations, escalation and process improvement.
- allocate resources to promote adherence to the CSR principles as a corporate process.
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