SAFETY4SEA launched for the first time the ‘Shipping CSR500 Survey’ in 2016 with the aim to set out an index illustrating the real progress that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has made so far in the industry. The survey attempts to assess the compliance with CSR principles of 500 organizations, operating in more than 30 different countries. Namely, the index monitors the CSR level of 15 sectors of shipping industry by examining 10 factors according to ISO 26000 requirements and CSR strategy of EU.

This year, the ‘’Shipping CSR500 Survey’’ analysis revealed a slight increase in the engagement to CSR practices, compared with 2017 results. Specifically, the organizations have increased their CSR performance to 52.1% (51.2% in 2017) however the industry still needs to make progress for a widespread adoption. For the effective implementation across all 15 sectors, a long-term vision and strategy in terms of CSR is required along with focus on improving both their environmental and social performance.

ISO 26000 initiatives & CSR

According to ISO 26000, CSR is the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behavior that:

  • contributes to sustainable development, including health and the welfare of society;
  • takes into account the expectations of stakeholders;
  • is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behavior  and
  • is integrated throughout the organization and practiced in its relationships

As per ISO 26000 initiatives, it is organization’s responsibility to maintain issues regarding the following seven core subjects:

  1. Organizational Governance
  2. Human Rights
  3. Labor Practices
  4. The Environment
  5. Fair Operating Practices
  6. Consumer Issues, and
  7. Community Involvement and Development

The core subjects of ISO 26000 (Table 1) reflect the 10 factors on which CSR500 survey was based. Economic aspects, those of health and safety and the value chain are processed through the seven core subjects, when appropriate.

Table 1 shows the categorization of the factors selected to fit and comply with industry’s activities and concerns. The following types of organizations were examined: Oil Companies, ROs, LNG Operators, Yards, Drilling Companies, Tanker-LPG Operators, Container Operators, Cruise Operators, MoU PSC, P&I Clubs, Ro-Ro Operators, Suppliers, Bulker Operators, Port and Associations.

CSR is not an obligation

Although compliance with the requirements of CSR is not an obligation, effective CSR implementation in shipping can help industry stakeholders to engage to best practices.

The organizations which realize their responsibility as part of the society and their contribution to the environmental sustainability adopt its practices to move forward and to make actual progress in the industry which they operate as a whole.

CSR benefits for shipping

Among the many benefits, CSR implementation has positive impacts on crew welfare, protection of the marine environment, cultivating business ethic and respecting human rights and ethical trading. All these result in good reputation for the organization itself, crew loyalty, stakeholders’ involvement and commitment.

This is the reason why CSR reporting is of outmost importance; it further enhances the communication and engagement status of the stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement plays a vital role throughout the reporting process since their viewpoints and interests contribute to ensuring the report’s relevance, accessibility and credibility to external audiences.

CSR500 Methodology

The methodology of the survey was based on a Yes/No method: in case a company reference entailed an activity imprecision or omission (report, announcement etc.) the result was thereby interpreted as a ‘No’. Solely clear and outright answers provided in any type of report (CSR, Sustainability, Environmental etc.) have been collected during the survey. Therefore, the extracted performance level was based on estimation and may be subject to changes if reports themselves change (in forthcoming years) or if companies get more thoroughly involved in CRS issues.

Following the methodology described as above, the CSR500 index for 2018 found the CSR performance to be above average, at 52.1%. According to the survey, the five top rated sectors are: Oil Companies, ROs, LNG Operators, Yards and Tanker- LPG Operators (Table 2). Although the outcome of the survey shows a slight progress in the performance, it is interesting to note that the industry seems to have started embracing CSR by taking slow but steady steps towards its activities.


Survey Key Findings

  • The top five rated sectors are: Oil companies (77%), ROs (67.8%), LNG Operators (64.8%), Yards (59.2%) and Drilling Companies (57.8%)
  • Oil companies remain at first position, having a significant increase in compliance rates (in first survey in 2016 the rate was 71.2%)
  • Organizations illustrate their CSR performance mostly via: publishing CSR policies on their corporate websites (95.7%); focusing on education training & awareness (81.2%); adopting a Code of Business Conduct and transparent policies (60.3%)
  • This year, we noticed an increase in pro-bono activities (59.1%), as many organizations have turned to donations and charities. These actions have been the most popular with the shipping organizations, leaving behind others, like ISO 9001 (49.5%), which had a better rate during 2017 (68%). A significant decrease seems to have been occurred also in ISO 14001 (53.4% in 2017; 47.1% in 2018)and in anti-corruption policies adopted by the organizations (46.8% in 2017; 41.4% in 2018)

Survey outcomes

For a consecutive year, Oil Companies have gained the top position in CSR performance, showing that these organizations have realized the significant impact of CSR on their operations. However, critical areas for effective CSR strategy in the oil and gas industry should cover all aspects of CSR and not be limited to donations, education and environment. Areas such as human rights, workers’ rights, anti-bribery and anti-corruption measures, accountability, transparency etc. should be equally addressed.

Another significant outcome from CSR500 analysis is the focus on high training standards (STCW based for crews). However, organizations show less attention to factors related to Energy efficiency and food safety management.

Although as a whole the survey’s results are positive, given that the total performance remains above average, industry needs to become more active with respect to social and environmental activities.

In terms of prioritization the most prominent target for the industry should be to set the example and lead the way to raise awareness across all sectors of the industry with respect to CSR.

For example, as best practices, organizations could follow the example by others and invest more in CSR by establishing units or departments dedicated to this endeavor and by having qualified and specialized professionals in the field for better performance and outputs.  Also, a process for the development of CSR standards exclusively for shipping including standardization of the environmental performance via KPIs for CSR and benchmarking should be considered.

Key Highlights

  • Industry needs to improve its CSR performance, especially by focusing on activities that will help achieve the widespread adoption of CSR, such as annual reporting.
  • Compliance is never enough if organizations do not communicate their actions. CSR reporting ensures industry’s transparency and helps all stakeholders to engage in CSR procedures
  • Shipping operators need to adopt more activities related to energy efficiency and  illustrate their eco-friendly approach via KPIs
  • Shipping organizations are advised to make significant progress in addressing key factors related to health, safety and food management onboard.
  • In terms of prioritization, industry needs to move forward on CSR and expand its focus from company level to industry level, by raising awareness across the industry with respect to CSR importance.

Concluding, industry stakeholders should have in mind that although the benefits may not be seen promptly, CSR should never be seen as a waste of time; therefore we have created an informative infographic to illustrate proper practices for effective CSR implementation in the maritime industry.