According to the Global Reporting Initiative GRI , "A material CSR issue is one that substantively influences the assessments and decisions of stakeholders or that reflects the organization's significant economic, environmental or social impacts. The concept of materiality has been used widely by leading global companies and is having a profound impact on corporate strategy and on approaches to sustainability reporting.
In the GRI's guidelines, materiality is enshrined as one of the core principles for determining report content. A company should undertake a materiality assessment to help identify key CSR issues that are most important to a company and to its stakeholders. This type of assessment considers two different aspects:.
CSR issues which are assessed as high for both aspects are considered to be the most material to a business. Material issues can be mapped on a matrix along the two scales of stakeholder impact and business impact. The GRI provides guidance on material issue identification and assessment, including the sample materiality matrix shown below: Footnote The following box provide links to how two selected companies undertake their materiality assessments. Nexen uses a materiality matrix to communicate their key sustainability issues. In this section, more detail is provided regarding the development of a CSR report, the most traditional approach to communicating a company's CSR performance.
Systematic CSR reporting provides stakeholders with comparable data on corporate performance, and uses agreed disclosures and metrics. While many companies produce a stand-alone CSR report, it is also possible to integrate CSR information into other company reports, including the company's annual report. Integrating CSR information into annual reports is a particularly effective way to communicate to investors on a company's management of CSR risks and opportunities. A study done by SustainAbility, a UK-based consultancy, found that there are more than sets of reporting schemes that aim to measure which companies are the most responsible.
The Government of Canada endorses the use of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework for all companies in all sectors, as it can assist Canadian companies to measure and to manage their economic, environmental, social and governance performance. GRI also produces special guidance for SMEs, and sector supplements tailored to firms in sectors such as the extractives, food processing, construction, real estate and electric utilities. In , according to CorporateRegister.
The IIRC was established in " to create a globally accepted Integrated Reporting Framework which brings together financial, environmental, social and governance information in a clear, concise, consistent and comparable format. An integrated report addresses an organization's strategy, governance, performance and prospects in the context of its external environment, leading to the creation of value over the short, medium and long term. While the communications that result from integrated reporting will be of benefit to a range of stakeholders, they are principally aimed at providers of financial capital.
It also promotes integrated thinking, breaking down the silos within the business, resulting in even greater business benefits. Internal benefits for companies and organizations that produce a sustainability report can include:. It is important to provide more detail on step 6 in the figure above, i. Verifying a company's CSR report can take place in a number of ways, including internal audits, industry peer and stakeholder reviews, and professional third-party audits. Depending on the approach taken, it may result in a statement included in a report that describes the verification process and conclusions.
A company should adapt its approach to verification based on the objectives of the report, on corporate culture, and to support the delivery of its CSR strategy and initiatives. No matter the approach chosen, the verification method should check the reported CSR performance information for:. Given the commitment and cost involved, I am hard-pressed to allocate resources to reporting on our CSR activities. There are many reasons why companies would track, measure and report their CSR performance.
Some see reporting as an effective communication and reputation management tool, building loyalty with customers, investors and suppliers around important values and issues. Others may choose to use it as a risk management tool. Reporting requires a deep analysis of systems and processes at the firm level and as such, opportunities for innovation can be identified and new products and services developed which otherwise would not have been noticed. In any case, CSR reporting is a big step for any company to take and mapping a realistic plan is very important.
A company may want to begin with a self-assessment, moving into reporting against well-accepted guidelines such as those of the GRI. Taking a step wise approach can phase resources and allow a company to test the value of sustainability reporting. Review reports of others for ideas There are hundreds of organizations that report on their social and environmental performance annually.
Be open about strengths and weaknesses. Reports that talk about just the good news are less credible and open to criticism. Full transparency means talking about areas that need improvement. The main tool governments use to address a company's social, environmental and economic impacts is the law. In Canada, there are a wide range of laws at the federal, provincial, territorial and local levels pertaining to consumers, workers, health and safety, human rights, Aboriginal rights, environmental protection, bribery and corruption, corporate governance and taxation.
Some of these selected themes are discussed in more detail below, as they pertain to CSR and the law. The Government of Canada also encourages and expects Canadian firms operating abroad to respect all applicable laws and international standards, and to reflect Canadian values and international commitments. The Canadian Securities Administrators CSA , whose members are all the provincial securities regulatory commissions, provides guidelines to companies on their corporate governance structure and practices.
These guidelines address legal compliance and the reporting of illegal or unethical behaviour. In this context, social and environmental issues are integral components of the corporate governance agenda. These Guidelines have been adopted by all provinces except British Columbia.
It is also important to note that Canadian corporate law has indicated support for the consideration of non-shareholder stakeholders in corporate decision making, stating that corporate directors may resolve to balance stakeholder interests " … in accordance with their fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the corporation, viewed as a good corporate citizen … ," and in so doing, they may take into account non-shareholder interests such as environmental protection and long term sustainability, along with the traditional values of profit and the primacy of the shareholder.
Footnote 35 3. It is also important to note that due to increased scrutiny from the investment community, companies are under increasing pressure to disclose activities and issues that may have a material impact on the their decision making and on that of investors. Ensuring no bribery and corruption are core elements of CSR, the federal Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act CFPOA makes it a criminal offence in Canada for persons or companies to bribe foreign public officials to obtain or retain an advantage in the course of international business.
The amendments strengthen Canada's bribery laws to further deter and prevent Canadian companies from bribing foreign public officials in international business transactions. The amendments received Royal Assent on June 19, The following international laws may apply to some Canadian companies with operations located overseas. These laws demonstrate the emerging trend towards the integration of CSR into law and signal the increasing importance of a clear CSR strategy. The United Kingdom Anti-Bribery Act , passed in , applies to acts of bribery, being bribed, the bribery of foreign public officials, and the failure of a commercial organization to prevent bribery on its behalf.
The European Union EU has developed a directive that contains measures to improve transparency and to promote sustainable business among multinational companies mining, oil and gas, and forestry , which passed in April All EU members must now pass legislation, within a two-year timeframe, that requires extractive sector companies listed on EU stock exchanges and those with major in-country European projects to report taxes, royalties and bonuses paid to governments worldwide on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis.
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Unocal , which raises the possibility that corporate liability could be established through transnational civil litigation. There are a wide range of tools and resources to assist companies in the development of CSR programs. The list below provides references to some of the most commonly use. Quick tip Updates on CSR could be put on the agenda of meetings at all levels of the company.
SMEs are flexible and adaptable—they are able to quickly act on new opportunities as they arise and to take advantage of new niche markets. SMEs are creative and innovative—they constantly look for efficiencies through creative thinking and innovation, and often champion new ideas in the marketplace. SMEs are less bureaucratic—this makes it easier to get the CSR message across and to get your whole company involved.
Footnote 4. In , Canadian grocer and retailer Loblaw made a commitment that by it would only sell fish from certified sustainable sources. Overall, the initiative has resulted in deepening and more stable supply chain relationships. Footnote 9 Ethical consumers According to a survey by the Responsible Consumption Observatory, nearly three-quarters Consider using one of the many existing self-assessment tools, such as the Corporate Responsibility Assessment Tool , published by the Conference Board of Canada; see Annex 2 for additional tools.
Ask an industry association or CSR specialist organization whether it offers assistance with self-assessment. Include diversity on a CSR team Once you have an idea of who should be represented on your CSR team, consider choosing individuals that represent diversity in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and seniority—a variety of perspectives will contribute to a more robust and effective CSR strategy. A CSR strategy is most likely to succeed when it: is aligned with a company's values and core business; is supported and championed by senior management; makes use of input and ideas from a company's employees; and, approaches issues systematically, building on strengths and addressing weaknesses.
Quick tips for SMEs Determine priorities before developing a strategy; priorities will Guide the overall strategy.
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Set aside time to identify links between the actions in the strategy and the business case for CSR. Join an association with a CSR focus; there are a number of associations that offer assistance with developing a CSR strategy or that can make a referral. How to assess what your competitors are doing What people and organizations were involved in developing these initiatives? Would these groups be the same people and organizations that would need to be involved in a company's own CSR initiatives?
What are the objectives underlying the development of these CSR initiatives? Are those objectives the same or different from those underlying a company's CSR objectives? Can a particular CSR issue identified by a company be resolved or addressed through the use of these or similar CSR initiatives? What are the potential costs, drawbacks and benefits of the various types of initiatives?
What approach, standard or initiative is a company already associated with, eg. What is the applicability or suitability of these initiatives to a company in light of its scope of activities and the geographic range of its operations? Will a company benefit from the initiatives and, if so, how? Voluntary Labelling Standards Codes and standards are often linked to third-party verification or certification labelling programs.
We strive to provide the highest quality products and service for our customers, while honouring these core values: Values: We maintain fair trade as the founding principle of our business. We encourage community building locally and globally. We create premium products for our customers. We use organic and locally produced products wherever possible. We consciously reduce our environmental impact. We encourage a healthy, open and inclusive work environment.
We provide ongoing education and growth for employees and customers. Below are two examples: Water: contribute to the ability of present and future generations to enjoy a balance between the social, economic, recreational and cultural benefits of water resources, within ecologically sustainable limits. Vision: The Co-operators aspires to be valued by Canadians as: A champion of their prosperity and peace of mind.
A leader in the financial services industry, distinct in its co-operative character. A catalyst for a sustainable society. Mission: Financial security for Canadians and their communities. Statement of values At The Co-operators we: Strive for the highest level of integrity. Foster open and transparent communication. Give life to co-operative principles and values. Carefully temper our economic goals with consideration for the environment and the well-being of society at large.
Anticipate and surpass client expectations through innovative solutions supported by mutually beneficial partnerships. Co-operative principles include: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; co-operation among co-operatives; and concern for the community financial. Footnote 17 TD initiatives for employee engagement Show continuous improvement in employee engagement score calculated using an Employee Engagement Index based on the average response to 3 questions on 'feelings of accomplishment,' 'pride in TD,' and 'plans to be with TD in one year.
Convert all control brands to meet the federal government's recommended maximum sodium requirements by Footnote 19 Blackberry initiatives for supplier auditing Audit 50 suppliers against the Blackberry Supplier Code of Conduct , which is based on the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition Code of Conduct , comprised of topics related to labour, ethics, environment, and health and safety.
Increase the use of recycled fibres and virgin fibres that are Forest Stewardship Council certified or equivalent to Developing a supply chain policy Supply chain management can be a key component of your CSR strategy. In order to manage these effectively, consider using the following tips to create a supply chain policy: have a clear purpose or statement of intent; clearly set out the minimum expected standards, for example, related to the working conditions of your partners; reference internationally recognized human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and core International Labour Organization ILO conventions; have accompanying guidance notes so that those responsible for sourcing can give meaningful guidance to suppliers; consider putting CSR information and commitments into contracts; detail how the supply chain will be managed and monitored, and how performance on issues such as labour rights or economic standards will feed into appraisals and the renewal of contracts.
CSR—A really big change management exercise The speed at which a company implements sustainability initiatives is different for every organization. For all organizations, however, taking real steps towards sustainability requires fundamental changes to the way that: leadership thinks about its business objectives; employees think about the work that they do and how they do it; and processes and procedures drive performance towards economic, environmental and social objectives. Considerations for implementing a company's CSR strategy 1 Identify people or committees at the top levels of the company who will assume key CSR decision-making and oversight responsibilities.
Assigning CSR responsibilities to senior management ensures that CSR issues will receive the attention they deserve and forms a strong basis for an effective chain of CSR accountability within the organization—all of which can support a board's corporate governance function. There are several options for board participation: a sitting board member could be tasked with broad responsibility for CSR activities; a new member who has specific CSR expertise could be appointed; CSR responsibilities could be added to the work of existing board committees; a new CSR board committee could be formed; or the entire board could be involved in CSR decisions.
CSR initiatives help to drive transparency, accountability and performance. Ensuring the CSR decision-making structure and roles are visible to all employees will help to support delivery. CSR responsibilities should be built into job descriptions and performance evaluations.
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Accountability should start with the board and follow through to the executive and senior levels, supported by coordinated cross-functional decision-making and specialized staff expertise. A senior official or committee responsible for overall CSR implementation within a company should be identified and given the resources to do the job. Particular departments having CSR responsibilities e. Types of CSR communication approaches Internal stakeholders Employee training and education Employee updates External stakeholders Sustainability and integrated reporting, e.
Tailor your report to the target audience A large glossy report will not be effective for all audiences. Defining Stakeholder Engagement "Stakeholder engagement involves interactive processes of engagement with relevant stakeholders, through, for example, meetings, hearings or consultation proceedings. Effective stakeholder engagement is characterized by two-way communication and depends on the good faith of the participants on both sides.
This engagement can be particularly helpful in planning and in decision-making concerning projects or other activities involving, for example, the intensive use of land or water, which could significantly affect local communities. Quick tips Prioritize which stakeholders to engage with in terms of their ability to impact positively or negatively on a company. Make sure to know in advance why engage with specific stakeholders and how to engage with them. Consider using professional facilitators or consultants to assist in constructing an effective engagement process.
While each site has the flexibility to design their own engagement program, guidance is provided at various levels, which includes: The Sustainability Policy The Sustainability Framework The Community Relations Handbook The Community Relations Audit Tool Overall, our engagement is guided by principles of honesty, transparency and the construction of meaningful relationships.
Nexen's materiality matrix Nexen uses a materiality matrix to communicate their key sustainability issues. An Implementation Guide for Canadian Business Table of contents The development of the CSR Guide benefited from input from an Expert Advisory Group see Annex 3 ; however, the Guide neither represents a consensus of the Advisory group nor the views of individual members and the organizations to which they belong.
Why does it matter? It will be of use to: Businesses of various size across all different sectors and industries; Businesses that are new to or are already engaged in CSR initiatives; Businesses with international operations; and Business leaders and employees with responsibility for CSR, including senior management, board members and "front-line" employees. In addition, three annexes accompany this Guide: Annex 1 contains supplementary information on key international CSR standards, guidelines and initiatives that are endorsed by the Government of Canada; Annex 2 provides a list of additional tools and resources to help implement a CSR strategy; and, Annex 3 lists the members of the CSR Expert Advisory Group that provided input into the development of the Guide.
Legend for icons used in this publication:. The integration of CSR initiatives across a company can lead to the development of innovative processes, technologies, products or services; addressing sustainability issues through these channels can: differentiate a company from its competitors; and enhance a company's reputation and brand. Use CSR initiatives to better anticipate and manage risks related to: Access to resources Implementing sustainable practices can ensure that a company can continue to access the inputs, e.
Operations Risks such as those arising from extreme weather, community disputes, and health and safety incidents at the premises of your suppliers. Financial and legal exposure Addressing environmental or community issues before they occur can reduce the probability of having to make more costly investments or to pay for litigation processes after an issue has been exposed. Reputation CSR initiatives that build trust and credibility can support a company's reputation for delivering products or services while maintaining a strong environmental or social performance.
This is particularly important for organizations with high-value brands that can easily become the focus of media, activist or consumer pressures. Find colleagues that are already interested in and thinking about CSR—they will be more willing to take on CSR responsibilities. Start with activities that will reduce costs, such as energy, water and waste efficiency. Think of ways that CSR can add value to the business or for customers, i.
Show stakeholders that a company is keen to demonstrate responsible business practices before they are demanded; be proactive. Develop a business case, highlight competitor company practices and start the conversation early.
Identify a CSR champion in upper management to help facilitate communication and engagement. Cross-check: Once the cycle of going through each task is completed, return to the "Plan" phase and start the next cycle. Develop a working definition of CSR. Articulate a business case for CSR. Review operations, documents and processes.
Identify key stakeholders. How to develop a CSR strategy and initiatives: Research what competitors are doing. Develop CSR initiatives. Build support with senior management and employees. Set performance measurements. Hold discussions with major stakeholders. Draft, review and publish the strategy and initiatives. Design and conduct CSR training. Establish mechanisms for addressing problematic behaviour.
How to communicate a CSR strategy and initiatives: Estalish a target audience and objectives. Choose a message.
Decide how to communicate. Representatives of the board, top management or owners It is critically important that a CSR team be directly accountable to senior management, and ultimately to the board if applicable. Additionally, senior management and executives have access to: the resources needed to implement a CSR strategy; the long-term and high-level vision of what a company's CSR approach should be; legitimacy and credibility to lend to the team; and helpful insights to bring in the right people and to keep things moving forward.
Management-level representation from all of the business units Ensuring each business unit is represented from the beginning means an efficient integration of CSR practices and processes into all operations, processes, and decision-making. Front-line staff Front-line staff are often most familiar with a company's day-to-day business and interactions with customers, business partners and stakeholders.
How do products impact on environmental, social or economic issues?
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Are customers making purchasing decisions based on CSR considerations? How do customers get CSR information about a company and its products? Is strong performance in CSR being encouraged through our performance management and measurement processes? Are CSR topics embedded into roles and responsibilities?
What are prospective employees asking about the CSR practices of a company? What are the CSR risks and opportunities in a supply chain? What are the largest purchases in terms of volumes and value? From whom are they purchased? Are employees with a "buying" or sourcing function trained on supply chain sustainability issues?
How can CSR be used to access new markets? What aspects of CSR does the current market find interesting? How does current messaging reflect CSR? What CSR issues or topics are customers talking about through social media? How do research and development priorities relate to CSR? Are there potential CSR solutions or opportunities that can be delivered through research and development work?
What CSR issues are considered in strategic planning? How is CSR impacting on business conditions and on our operating environment? What CSR issues are considered in project management processes? What are the opportunities for including CSR in our project management processes? Is stakeholder engagement effectively integrated into project management? What CSR risks are currently identified through risk assessment processes? Can risk management processes be changed to ensure routine consideration of CSR risks? What assurance processes are in place to evaluate CSR performance? Are there any gaps in assurance around CSR?
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