The European Commission’s 2015 Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility in Brussels was a great opportunity for me to highlight the need for a facilitator between governments and corporations in order to protect human rights on a global scale, which resulted in a call for the EU Commission to act as a “CSR Diplomat”. This fruitful debate took place alongside speakers from UN Global Compact, the OECD, The Coca-Cola Company, the EU Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and DG Trade.
G7 puts it on the international agenda
I was also honoured to be invited to join the discussion at the G7 International Stakeholder Conference in Berlin this month. Within the theme of “Promoting decent work worldwide through sustainable supply chains“, the primordial need for harmonisation emerged as the way to establish a common understanding of good social practice. With the 41st G7 Summit coming up in June, this two-day conference on Supply Chain Standards sends the clear message that social and environmental responsibility in the consumer goods industry is one of the top agenda items of the world’s seven largest industrialised countries, and I’m excited about the role GSCP is playing in this discussion, alongside key actors including ILO, OECD, World Bank, ministers, and state secretaries.
A priority for businesses for the past seven years
The FMCG industry has proven to be a powerful initiator, creating proactive voluntary initiatives such as the GSCP to set out a global framework for good compliance systems that go above and beyond many government requirements. We are seeing brands ever-more keen to nurture consumer trust and engage the customer in a more caring consumption style. Business continues to be a key actor, with leaders such as GSCP members lending their expertise to advance best-practice social compliance frameworks.
Harmonisation now a key topic for institutions as well
It’s great to see that government institutions are increasingly factoring in the importance of this complex topic and adding it to their agendas. Whether you’re looking at the EU-level or worldwide, more and more conversations are addressing CSR, social compliance, retail and supply chain standards. And this is precisely where public-private partnerships will be key for remediation and implementation.
Where are we now?
In my time here at the GSCP, I’ve seen the countless efforts towards harmonisation, I’ve overseen the development of the Reference Code to reflect best corporate practice in social compliance, I’ve witnessed the Equivalence Process at work, enabling benchmarking and convergence. Today, I’m pleased to see these opportunities flourishing to put this work at the service of the wider community. With the GSCP on the radar of these key institutions, we’re seeing a clear signal that joining forces for sustainability on a broader scale is not a far off aspiration; it’s just around the corner.
This post was written and contributed by:
Head of the Global Social Compliance Programme
The Consumer Goods Forum