As Sustainability Commitments and Policies Gain Ground, Corporate Practice Still Lags Behind

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United Nations Global Compact
Keywords: Anti-Corruption | Business & Trade | Corporate Sustainability | Energy | Environmental and Social Governance | Environment and Climate Change | Ethical Production and Consumption | Events, Conferences & Webinars | Finance & Socially Responsible Investment | Georg Kell | Human Rights

As Sustainability Commitments and Policies Gain Ground, Corporate Practice Still Lags Behind

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Summary

As a deeper understanding of sustainability issues is gaining momentum around the world, companies of all sectors are stepping up efforts to build environmental and social considerations into management strategies and policies. However, much remains to be done to truly operationalize corporate sustainability and translate commitments into tangible action. This is one of the central findings of the UN Global Compact’s 2011 Implementation Survey, the most comprehensive global survey on business policies and actions to advance sustainability.

Press Release
Monday, June 4, 2012 - 8:45pm

(3BL Media) New York, NY - June 4, 2011 – As a deeper understanding of sustainability issues is gaining momentum around the world, companies of all sectors are stepping up efforts to build environmental and social considerations into management strategies and policies. However, much remains to be done to truly operationalize corporate sustainability and translate commitments into tangible action.

This is one of the central findings of the UN Global Compact’s 2011 Implementation Survey, the most comprehensive global survey on business policies and actions to advance sustainability. Completed anonymously by more than 1300 companies participating in the UN initiative to advance responsible business practices, the survey’s results were presented at UN Headquarters today. Other findings:

  • 2011 was a year of unprecedented growth for the Global Compact, with 1861 companies joining the initiative – an increase of 54 percent over 2010 growth figures.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of all companies report that their sustainability commitments are developed or evaluated at the management board level.
  • Only nine percent of all companies report that their government lobbying activities are aligned with their sustainability principles.
  • Corporate disclosure on sustainability issues is on the rise. Global Compact participants submitted a total of 4150 reports in 2011, contributing to what is now the world’s most extensive collection of corporate sustainability communications, with a total of nearly 14,000 reports.
  • Among the four issue areas covered by the Global Compact principles, companies are taking action on the environment and on labour standards at the highest rates. While anti-corruption efforts have increased steadily for two consecutive years, human rights action continues to lag behind.
  • While environmental risk assessments are becoming a standard feature of sustainability management, less than a quarter of all companies on average report conducting risk assessments on human rights, labour issues or on anti-corruption.
  • While 63 percent of respondents say their companies consider supplier adherence to sustainability principles, most are only taking limited action to support and incentivize such adherence.
  • A little over a quarter (28 percent) of all respondents ranked their company’s sustainability performance as advanced, most of those being larger businesses.

"The business case for corporate sustainability is gaining global recognition,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “But this is the time for business leaders to follow words with action and ensure that responsible practice becomes part of the corporate DNA.”

Business efforts to advance corporate sustainability will also be in the spotlight at this June’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20. Together with several partners, the Global Compact will be hosting the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, a gathering of more than 2000 executives and leaders from government, civil society and the UN System focusing on the role of business in advancing sustainable development through innovation and collaboration.

About the UN Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies around the world to align their strategies and operations with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of broader UN goals. Through the development, implementation, and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices, business can help ensure that markets advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere. With nearly 7,000 corporate signatories in over 135 countries, it is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org

About the Global Compact Implementation Survey
Launched in 2008, the Global Compact Implementation Survey is an annual online survey of Global Compact participants worldwide to take stock of environmental and social performance and identify trends and developments related to corporate sustainability issues. All companies participating in the Global Compact were invited to take the 2011 survey which was conducted in November 2011.

The project team received 1,325 responses from over 100 countries - a response rate of roughly 20 percent. The 2010 survey is generally representative of the Global Compact participant base, especially in terms of region and year that a company joined the initiative.

Media Contact

Matthias Stausberg
Head of Public Affairs
stausberg@un.org
+1-917-367-3423

 

Contact

Matthias Stausberg
+1 (917) 367-3423
United Nations Global Compact
www.twitter.com/globalcompact
www.facebook.com/UNGlobalCompact