Tangible but Far from Sufficient Corporate Progress Made on Environmental, Social Issues, Survey by United Nations Global Compact Shows

7 June 2011

Tangible but Far from Sufficient Corporate Progress Made on Environmental, Social Issues, Survey by United Nations Global Compact Shows

7 June 2011
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Tangible but Far from Sufficient Corporate Progress Made on Environmental,


Social Issues, Survey by United Nations Global Compact Shows


NEW YORK, 7 June (United Nations Global Compact Office) — When it comes to broad implementation of responsible business practices, company size matters most.  And while businesses around the world seem to be making tangible progress in addressing environmental concerns, many continue to struggle in the human rights and anti-corruption arena.

These are among the findings of the United Nations Global Compact’s latest Implementation Survey, one of the most comprehensive global studies on corporate sustainability performance.  Completed anonymously by more than 1,200 companies participating in the Organization’s corporate responsibility initiative, the survey forms the basis of the 2010 Global Compact Annual Review, launched at Headquarters today.

Among the key findings:

·         Large publicly traded companies are performing at higher levels on all Global Compact issue areas (human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption) than small and medium-size enterprises, pointing to the availability of greater financial and human resources to support extensive sustainability programmes.

·         Reflecting the growing relevance of sustainability issues to business performance, more than 70 per cent of all respondents indicate the active involvement of their chief executives in policy and strategy development.  Nearly 60 per cent of all publicly traded companies report active involvement of their boards of directors.

·         Companies across the board report having anti-discrimination and equal opportunity policies in place — one of the few issues to transcend size or sector.  Yet, less than 20 per cent of all respondents report conducting human rights impact assessments and less than 30 per cent record instances of corruption, with dramatic differences between small and medium-size enterprises and larger companies.

·         Concerning supply chain implementation of sustainability principles, widely seen as critical in order to bring corporate responsibility to true scale, 65 per cent of companies report some measure of supplier involvement, with 12 per cent requiring their suppliers to be Global Compact participants.

·         Likewise, 79 per cent of companies spread their commitment to Global Compact principles to their subsidiaries, with nearly half of those (44 per cent) creating separate sustainability functions at the subsidiary level.

·         Increasingly, businesses are recognizing the role of the private sector in advancing United Nations development objectives.  More than half (56 per cent) of survey respondents are engaged in some form of public-private partnership at the global or local level.  Reflecting a broader trend by business to build on the growing sustainability market, 42 per cent of all respondents said they are developing products and services or designing business models that seek to contribute to United Nations priorities.

“While the sustainability movement has taken great strides in recent years, significant challenges remain,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact.  “Helping smaller companies close performance gaps, stimulating collective action on all fronts and making a stronger case for human rights and anti-corruption engagement will be critical if we are to bring corporate responsibility to scale.”

Overall, the Global Compact continued to grow in 2010 and now includes more than 6,000 business participants, as well as more than 3,000 non-business signatories.  More than half of all businesses in the initiative are small and medium-size enterprises.  France, Spain, the United States and Brazil have the highest numbers of participants.

United Nations Global Compact

Launched in 2000, the Global Compact is a call to companies around the world to align their strategies and operations with 10 universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of broader United Nations goals.  Through the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices, business can help ensure that markets advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.  With more than 6,000 corporate signatories in over 135 countries, it is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative.  (Please visit www.unglobalcompact.org)

Global Compact Implementation Survey

Launched in 2008, the annual, anonymous online survey of Global Compact participants worldwide takes stock of environmental and social performance, and identifies trends and developments related to corporate sustainability issues.  All 6,000-plus companies participating in the Global Compact were invited to take the 2010 survey — available in multiple languages — which was conducted in November/December 2010.  The survey was administered and analysed by a team of MBA and doctoral candidates at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

The 2010 survey received 1,251 responses from 103 countries — a rate of more than 20 per cent, and is generally representative of the Global Compact participant base, especially in terms of region and year that a company joined the initiative.

Global Compact Annual Review 2010

The Annual Review 2010 was organized in accordance with the three dimensions of the Global Compact Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership, a model for achieving higher levels of sustainability performance.  It assesses how — and

to what extent — participating companies are implementing the 10 principles; taking action in support of broader United Nations goals and issues; and engaging with the Global Compact locally and globally.  At the centre of the review are the findings of the 2010 Implementation Survey.

In addition, the Annual Review provides detailed updates on the Global Compact’s growth, strategic and operational priorities, governance and finances.

Read the Annual Review:  http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/news_events/8.1/UN_Global_Compact_Annual_Review_2010.pdf

Media Contact: Matthias Stausberg, Spokesperson, stausberg@un.org, +1 917 367 3423

Note to Editors

Using both terms interchangeably, the Global Compact defines corporate sustainability or corporate responsibility as a company’s delivery of long-term value in financial, social, environmental and ethical terms, covering all 10 Global Compact principles.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.