LP Magazine Europe Spring 2017

Responsible Risk, Ethical Trading, and Sustainable Business

 

When Google first came to prominence, it had a corporate mantra—do no evil. This simply meant that wherever it operated in the world—both in the real and digital spaces—it must not negatively impact those who make use of the global search engine. Lofty intentions for a super brand, but aspirationally, it has provided food for thought for a number of major corporations in recent years.

In 2016, ORIS Forums launched its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Forum to bring together experts whose jobs are to make sure their businesses are doing no evil and in fact are doing all the right things when it comes to the day-to-day running of their enterprises. Members of the CSR Forum include Superdrug (A.S. Watson), Canary Wharf Group, GAP, JD Sports, Matalan, Superdry, and Jack Wills. It is set to grow during 2017 as more businesses look to sign up.

A business has to make a profit to be sustainable. But CSR goes way beyond the P&L sheet to drill down into the business’s DNA to find out what it is about and more importantly that it makes money without negatively impacting its employees, customers, and suppliers wherever they are in the world. For example, many products in retail supply chains are globally sourced. It is the retailer’s responsibility to ensure that it manages the risks and has carried out due diligence on its suppliers to make sure that working conditions are acceptable and child labour is not employed. Fast fashion is one sector where this example is a real concern. In the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, almost 400 people lost their lives when an over-crowded and poorly constructed textile factory collapsed onto the workforce. For the Western companies whose subcontractors were producing garments in the factory, the brand damage was immense despite the swift offer of compensation for the disaster, which included long-term payments for orphaned children.

The CSR Forum explores issues such as overseas subcontracting as well as sustainable practices including a company’s carbon footprint reduction. Managing director of ORIS Forums Louise Kadege said, “What we have learned over the years is that risk happens everywhere. Just getting up and going to work in the morning involves risk, which is why ORIS Forums has moved to more discipline-focused forums to complement the forums that target risk sectors.

“How businesses manage those risks is often different, but our members are always willing to share and learn from one another, even if they are competitors in the commercial world. CSR is one such example. It is a department in a business (like LP) that touches every other function including finance, operations, legal, human resources (HR), and property. It ensures that there are common goals and objectives in the behaviour of the brand that it represents.

“This is not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a real recruitment poster because it represents a lot of positive messages including the fact that it is an ethical business. Furthermore, it expects certain standards of its suppliers that mirror its own. This is also a strong message for shareholders and would-be investors, which can add to the bottom line of the business as part of a virtuous circle.”

HR Forum 2017

Similarly, ORIS Forums is looking to launch an HR Forum during 2017. This is appealing to retail businesses that want to explore broader risks aligned with LP including recruitment and retention policies, investigation protocols, and data protection. However, it is also looking at broader HR strategies. Many HR managers, for example, look after issues surrounding fleet cars because to the HMRC they represent a benefit in kind (BIK) on the payroll. Here HR overlaps with the world of health and safety because of the grey area surrounding grey fleet—the use of an employee’s own car for business purposes—and the essential checks that need to be carried out to abide by the law, including insurance, licence checking, and penalty points, to name but a few.

Kadege added, “HR is a real opportunity for managers in this space to share some best practice and look at issues like training and retaining good staff, for example. We found with the Omni-channel Forum that bringing both the retailers and carriers together to share problems and issues is a really helpful way to resolve differences and understand each other’s viewpoints. Getting HR people to share their wisdom with health and safety and LP personnel highlights many of the risk synergies and starts to break down many of the barriers that hold businesses back in their day-to-day work.”

Contact Kadege at louise.kadege@orisforums.co.uk to learn more about the CSR or HR forums.

 

CSR goes way beyond the P&L sheet to drill down into the business’s DNA to find out what it is about and more importantly that it makes money without negatively impacting its employees, customers, and suppliers wherever they are in the world.

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