Today, we see that an increasing amount ofglobal players sponsor events or activities thatbeneﬁt the society that they are working in orcompany’s activities that aﬀect the society intheir immediate neighborhood.
When viewing annual reports of thesecompanies, it is often noticed that thesesponsored activities are listed in a dedicatedparagraph named Corporate SocialResponsibility (CSR).
It is without saying that these activities couldhave a positive eﬀect on the relationshipbetween the company and its environs and canbe regarded as a sign of goodwill.
Can this be regarded as a proper implementation of Corporate Social Responsibilityas it is described in the ISO 26000 standard?
Sometimes one could get the feeling that CSRis just another hype that is embraced bycompanies in order to manoeuvre themselvesinto a better market position. What are thedrivers for a company to become sociallyresponsible? Is it ethical responsibility, customerdemand, keeping up with competitors or justshowing that one tries to do business in asustainable way? The answer is not easy,although it seems likely that customer demandand industry competitiveness are the maindrivers of today.
Perhaps this is too idealistic to some extent,but shouldn’t CSR principles be commonlyaccepted as a part of our daily business, in otherwords “business as usual”?
What is CSR?
The ISO standard 26000 describes the conceptof CSR and oﬀers voluntary guidance forconsideration to ﬁnd the optimum/suitableeﬀects.
This standard is meant to guide a company toimplement CSR principles and is certainly notmeant as a standard to be used for certiﬁcationwith compliance requirements. Nonetheless,unfortunately, you will notice that there are somecertiﬁable standards oﬀered as an ISO 26000spinoﬀ here and there.
The fundamental aspects of CSR lie in theso-called Triple Bottom Line (3BL), the People,Planet and Proﬁt. A good implementation ofCSR entails juggling the 3BL and establishing abalance that contributes to society as a whole, inconsultation with company stakeholders.
Up to 7 key recommendations can be takeninto consideration when determining the bestactions to be utilized addressing the 3BL.Actions that are eﬃcient and eﬀective for onecompany are not necessarily useful for another.All depends very much on the nature of thebusiness, the geographical impact and thestakeholders involved.
A tragic incident
Perhaps we can use a very recent, tragic incidentas an example to see how this could be linked toa CSR policy for a company.
In April 2013, the building collapse of aclothing manufacturer resulted in over 1000workers being killed. The various clothingbrands using this manufacturing site are nowaccused by the public of having focused on”quick proﬁts” as well as having disregardedconcerns about safety, environment and laborpractices.
These public accusations very much reﬂectsome of the 7 key recommendations in the ISO26000: Organizational governance, human rights, labor practices, the environment, fairoperating practices, consumer issues, andcommunity involvement and development.
It is too early to determine who is to beblamed for this tragedy, but certainly if acompany were to implement CSR policies,focusing on the 3 key subjects in theirevaluation – relevance, signiﬁcance andinﬂuence – then perhaps things would havegone diﬀerently.
In their communications with the stakeholders (manufacturers, consumers, local community, etc.) a diﬀerent approach to the basis ofCSR (People, Planet, and Proﬁt) could have ledto a healthier situation.
Pertinence to the Maritime Industry
The Hong Kong convention on ship recycling,the type and quality of fuel used for propulsion,innovations on energy conservation, laboremployed on board ships, cargo operations, andnavigational routes – these are just a fewexamples of topics to be considered whendeveloping CSR policies, by juggling the 3BLwhen determining their relevance, signiﬁcanceand link to the stakeholders of the company.
Several of the above mentioned examples aredealt with by international regulations, althoughthis is not at a desirable speed. Therefore, froman ethical point of view, shipping companies,shippers and charterers could decide to go theextra mile in the early implementation ofupcoming regulations or to maintain highstandard policies on issues that are notregulated.
On the other hand, for ports, theimplementation of CSR policies becomes morecomplex, since they deal with both the “wet”and “dry” sides of the industry along with theirdirect relationship to society. It is a real”juggling” act, concerning the demands fromthe local industries, society and shippingcompanies, with the ports sitting right in thecentre of the maritime supply chain. For thisreason, the impact the ports can make on thesocial aspects of the maritime industry isimmense, regardless of the complexity of theirimplementation.
Initiatives from the Maritime Industry
Some organizations promote the best practicesin many diﬀerent forms: providing guidelinesand recommendations, promoting the newesttechnology, regulating air emissions, educating& training for awareness, etc. Thecertiﬁcation/incentive scheme of Green AwardFoundation and those other social, environmental or safety initiatives are used as tools tomotivate the maritime industry to go the extramile in addressing the aforementioned topics.
Using Green Award as an example, the mainobjective of the foundation is to create anetwork of ship managers/owners and othermaritime related organizations to gaininternational recognition and a marketplace forquality tonnage for extra clean and extra safevessels. The certiﬁcation scheme ensures thatboth the ship manager and the ships areaudited/surveyed in order to verify the linkbetween the management system and theimplementation. To do so the ships are appliedfor individually by the ship managers and everyship is surveyed by the in-house trainedexclusive Green Award surveyors. Besidesrunning the certiﬁcation scheme, Green Awardalso creates a network of Incentive Providers,who reward certiﬁed ships with either ﬁnancialor operational incentives. From ports, pilotorganizations, ship routing companies, trainingorganizations, manufacturers, to banks, thereare diverse forms of organizations grantingincentives.
At Green Award, we aim to work with otherinitiatives that strive for similar goals by ﬁndingsynergies to create a win-win situation. GreenAward works closely with quality shippingpromoters such as Rightship and Equasis, bothof which provide extra recognition to GreenAward certiﬁed ships. Green Award alsobelongs to the core working group and closelycollaborates with the ESI system run by theIAPH/WPCI (World Ports ClimateInitiative), in which the system is integratedinto the Green Award requirements andshipping companies and ships are grantedscores for participation and a high ESI index.Besides these, many industry representativessuch as IACS, BIMCO, OCIMF, SIGTTO,INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO, CDI,P&I, HELMEPA, etc., act as governing bodiesto the foundation, where each member sharesits expertise in implementing the best practices.
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. Again, is CSR merelycredits from society? Can it not be embeddedinto our daily business routine? 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. Green Awardbelieves that with the certiﬁcation scheme, anetwork of incentive providers, and synergizingwith other organizations, a true industry-widesocial responsibility is achieved.
Managing Director of Green Award Foundation
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