I will speak about best practices and especially shipping corporate social responsibility. My first part of my presentation has nothing to do with shipping however the second part will make a link to shipping in order to understand what CSR is about and its relationship with shipping.
At first, let's go back to 24th April 2013 in Dhaka where a tragic accident happened in a garment factory which hit all the news in the world, leaving 1129 dead and more than 2500 injured. This was definitely a black page in the garment industry, especially of course in Bangladesh. This led to worldwide criticism towards the manufacturers who are using cheap labor and bad working conditions, from journalists, politicians and the industry. An important thing to remember is what politician Nick Clegg stated about the tragedy - '' there's more we could do to talk about what goes on behind the scenes and this terrible catastrophe might well prompt people to think again'' . Also another important thing mentioned by another politician is that after the accident, major High Street companies in UK were forced to audit their supply chain. The framework will request those companies to make vigorous checks to ensure slave labor is not used in third world countries, and the UK, to produce their goods. Also, there was another important message from a politician of the European Commission warning that retailers and the Bangladeshi government could face action from the EU if nothing is done to improve the conditions of workers - adding that shoppers should also consider where they are spending their money. I believe that society becomes more aware of what is going on in the world and actions for a better world will increase, such as initiatives for organic foods, green transportation. Many countries in the world have started to act. For example, if you go to Los Angeles, almost every restaurant serves organic foods, in Netherlands people show their preference in green products. In general, people are getting more and more aware. The tragic accident in Dhaka, the Savar building collapse, has led to widespread discussions about corporate social responsibility across global supply chains. Based on an analysis of the Savar incident, Wieland and Handfield (2013) suggest that companies need to audit products and suppliers and that supplier auditing needs to go beyond direct relationships with first-tier suppliers. They also demonstrate that visibility needs to be improved if supply cannot be directly controlled and that smart and electronic technologies play a key role to improve visibility. Finally, they highlight that collaboration with local partners, across the industry and with universities is crucial to successfully managing social responsibility in supply chains.
Corporate social responsibility is described in ISO standards 26000. This standard is a guideline and therefore CSR cannot be certified. The fundamentals starts with the triple bottom line. Triple bottom line includes people, planet, profit. Dealing with these as your starting point, then you are dealing with CSR. In ISO standards you get seven key recommendations for your consideration to discuss them internally in your organization but also to include them with your stakeholders. You might say, ok I'm going to address all these seven recommendations, but it's not that easy, because companies trade different products and have different environments but all companies have to deal with people, planet, profits. A good implementation ofCSR entails juggling these seven key elements and establishing abalance that contributes to society as a whole, inconsultation with company stakeholders
So how does that relate to the maritime industry? A regular question is whether the shipping companies should be proactive or reactive. Regulations regarding MLC, ship recycling, water ballast, emissions are typical examples of being the industry reactive. We are facing these regulations due to accidents in the shipping industry, such as my example of Dhaka. We always make a step forward when we take action.
My message is to try to do things together and show what are our plans and values, our relationship with stakeholders, what we stand for and what our ethics. It is very difficult, but if you manage to do this in the industry, then the regulations imposed will be different. Considering the broad involvement of themaritime industry in social aspects, it isinevitable for the entire industry to not onlyconsider the shipping side, but also the wholesupply chain; to re-think the true essence ofsocial responsibility. Whether youare a manufacturer, shipper, charterer, shipowner/manager, port, certiﬁcation body, serviceprovider, and last but certainly not least, asimple end-user, you can make a diﬀerence byfeeling responsible for that one thing happeningon the other side of the world.
Above article is an edited version of Jan Fransen's presentation during 2013 SAFETY4SEA Athes Forum
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