There are many benefits of having an embedded CSR strategy and operating to high ethical and other standards
Why is CSR important to G4S?
G4S is one of the world’s largest private employers and the nature of the business we are in and the countries and markets in which we operate mean that we form an important part of many societies and impact the lives of millions of people all over the world – it is our responsibility to make sure that the impact we have is a positive one.
There are many benefits of having an embedded CSR strategy and operating to high ethical and other standards – it enables us to do better business. It helps to attract and retain staff, it helps to win business in a competitive environment where we need to stand out from others, it helps to attract investment to support the growth and development of the company and, most of all, it helps to generate pride in the company from everyone connected to it.
What are the material CSR issues which are relevant to the group?
Having such an important role in many societies brings with it some key responsibilities which are at the heart of our CSR strategy. Operating ethically and without tolerating any form of corruption is essential for our business and differentiates us from less reputable companies in a number of markets.
Taking care of our staff and ensuring their safety is also key – we have a responsibility not just to them, but to their wider families to ensure they can work in a safe and secure environment. Sadly, in our business, our employees can be subject to attack by criminals, but we make sure we do everything we can to keep them safe and to protect them from harm both within G4S premises and when they are representing the company elsewhere.
As well as having a large number of employees across the world, our business brings us into contact with many other people – whether they are held within a G4S-managed facility (such as a prison) or whether they are a member of the public – making sure that the way we interact with people and take care of those within our responsibility in terms of protecting and realising their human rights is very important. We have focused significantly on human rights during 2012 and have developed new policies and extensive guidelines for our businesses, based on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights developed by the UN Special Representative, John Ruggie.
Of course, whilst these are the most material CSR issues for the group, our CSR strategy is far more wide-ranging and incorporates a broad range of topics including supporting local communities, workforce diversity, recycling, carbon reduction and many other issues. We regularly assess the materiality of these issues to ensure that our CSR strategy remains focused on the key priorities for the group.
What are the biggest challenges to achieving your CSR objectives?
One of our biggest challenges is the continual drive to reduce staff injuries and fatalities of those staff who work in difficult environments where they can be subject to attack or through other causes, such as road traffic accidents. We also face challenges in ensuring that everyone within the group understands what we mean by CSR, why it is important to the group and their role in ensuring we live up to our CSR standards and commitments.
How do you make sure that everyone understands the importance of CSR and their role in achieving the company’s goals?
Communicating with and educating managers and front line staff on CSR is a big challenge in an organisation of our size and complexity, but our practical and flexible approach means that it works well. New employees are introduced to many aspects of business ethics and CSR during their recruitment, induction and training processes.
Where specific training is required, for example to prevent bribery or corruption, we establish tailored training and assessment programmes to suit all relevant levels of the workforce which are delivered in multiple languages and through a variety of methods – whether it is online, by DVD, in the classroom or simply through a written workbook.
Our business ethics policy, which summarises many aspects of the group’s approach to CSR matters, is reviewed every year to make sure it contains the very latest and most important issues which are relevant to the group and its operations. Managers are asked to sign up to the policy every year to demonstrate their own compliance with its content and to confirm the compliance of those people within their specific area of responsibility.
We have in place strong audit and compliance programmes to test awareness of key policies and their practical use within the business. We also have global and local whistle-blowing hotlines where non-compliance can be reported and acted on.
How would you sum up the group’s CSR performance in 2012?
I am pleased to say that our CSR performance continues to improve significantly every year and we have made substantial progress in a number of areas.
One of our most significant steps forward this year has been in terms of developing and launching a new human rights policy and guidance for managers. We felt that it was important to be clear about our expectations of employees and other stakeholders in relation to human rights issues and to ensure that other group policies and procedures were aligned to a clear, G4S-wide, position on human rights matters.
The good news is that, having assessed our human rights practices, we already had many safeguards in place to ensure that we comply with human rights requirements and in many ways contribute to a more positive human rights environment. Our new policy and guidelines provide a more systematic approach to human rights and provide practical guidance to managers to help with decision-making around human rights issues.
A core focus of our CSR strategy during 2012 was to continue to reduce the level of work-related fatalities, particularly related to road traffic incidents. We are implementing a number of strategies to help prevent serious injury or fatality while on duty and, while our aim is to eliminate all fatalities within our business, I am pleased to note that during 2012 our efforts have contributed to a 22% reduction in work-related fatalities.
Following the enactment of the UK Bribery Act in 2011, our internal audit team completed a full programme of Bribery Act compliance audits across 37 countries. These visits were made in addition to the standard internal audit programme.
In 2009, we set ourselves the challenging objective to reduce our carbon intensity by 13% by the end of 2012. Utilising a combination of employee engagement and training, technology replacement programmes and renewable energy solutions, we have worked to increase the energy efficiency of our group and I am pleased to report that we have achieved an overall reduction in carbon intensity of 16% over the three year period.
G4S plc became a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact in 2011 and we submitted our first ‘Communication on Progress’ early last year. The ten principles of the Global Compact continue to be reflected in our business ethics policy and I am pleased to reaffirm our commitment to the principles as they help to shape our CSR strategy.
What targets or goals are you setting on CSR for 2013?
Our number one goal is to continue to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries to our staff across the world and we have a number of programmes in place to achieve this.
Our internal audit team play a vital role with this during their visits to our businesses around the world. They can provide assurance that the policies and guidelines are being followed effectively, but they can also advise and facilitate sharing best practice.
Having recently launched our human rights policy and guidelines, we need to make sure that everyone understands their role in living up to the requirements of the policy and ensuring that we have the right monitoring and measurement processes in place so that, if the standards are not being met, we are quickly made aware of it and action can be taken.
Our Climate Action Programme has helped G4S to reduce its carbon intensity significantly since 2009. We want to keep up that progress and so aim to achieve an overall reduction of at least 20% by the end of 2015.
Overall, we need to maintain the great momentum we have developed on CSR matters and to ensure we continue to build on the good progress we have made in this area in recent years.