Customers require proof of responsibility
Companies live with the pressure of changing customer expectations. Consumers and investors challenge retail chains to enhance responsibility. Commonly recognised tools, such as Global Compact, are necessary in this work. It has not been fully understood in Finland that responsibility is not something exercised by a company internally only. Transparency and stakeholder communications are important.
There are plenty of tools available to suit the needs of all companies and business sectors. Every company selects the ones that work best for its operations and stakeholder expectations.
The UN Global Compact is one of the first and simplest tools. The Global Compact, launched in 1999, contains 10 principles on 4 themes related to working conditions, the environment, human rights, and prevention of bribery. The companies that are committed to the Global Compact adhere to these ”10 corporate principles”. Participation costs nothing but requires actions to promote implementation within the company.
More than 6,400 companies from 140 countries that have joined the Global Compact initiative and, in the name of transparency, report to the UN annually. Usually this takes place with reference to annual reports or separate corporate responsibility reports. The credibility and added value of the Global Compact are derived from its international nature and acceptability among key stakeholders. All the 194 UN member states have recognised it to exemplify responsible business operations. Experience has shown that it is easier to incorporate UN-based recommendations than "internal head office rules and regulations" into everyday business of subsidiaries operating in different countries.
Today, responsibility requires perceptible and credible actions. Doing homework well is no longer sufficient. Stakeholders, such as investors, value the Global Compact initiative. The future belongs to companies that operate credibly and are able to provide practical, unbiased evidence on their responsibility. I believe that in the future consumers and investors will reward pioneering companies with their purchasing behaviour. The key to companies' future success lies in today.
The writer is the Secretary General, Executive Director of ICC Finland. He has also been responsible for the Global Compact cooperation of Nordic companies (www.gcnordic.net).
Kesko participates in the Global Compact initiative. Kesko's Corporate Responsibility Report contains a description on Kesko's progress on the ten principles of the Global Compact initiative.