Responsible business conduct is not a trend but a permanent change that companies should willingly embrace. Responsible companies take care of the environment as well as their employees, production chains and profitability. Investors and potential employees are increasingly assessing companies based on their responsibility actions. In addition, consumer expectations for true corporate responsibility continue to rise. Actions and transparency are required. It is hard to think of an industry that would not be affected by stakeholders’ expectations for responsible business practices. Responsibility requirements also widely impact the SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) sector because of the expectations relating to the production and sub-contracting chain.
Clear business advantages encourage companies to strengthen their corporate responsibility. Integrating responsibility into the company’s strategy creates cost savings and brings new business opportunities. It is also a chance to come up with ideas for innovations that solve sustainability challenges. Mapping operational risks creates trust in the future and strengthens the company’s brand. According to one estimate, there is EUR 11 trillion worth of business opportunities in promoting sustainability targets. The capabilities, technologies and solutions of Finnish companies are desperately needed around the world.
At the minimum, corporate responsibility requires national laws to be followed. When companies are looking for more responsible practices, the best guidelines can be found in international agreements, especially the ones drafted by the UN. These agreements are best linked to corporate responsibility through the UN Global Compact initiative and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They provide companies with a responsibility framework, the principles of which are known all around the world.
The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative. Thousands of companies all around the world are committed to following the initiative’s ten principles for responsible operations in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in their operations. Committing to the Global Compact initiative is a public promise to stakeholders to promote corporate responsibility in all the countries in which the company operates.
Global Compact provides support and learning platforms to help companies on the journey to improve their corporate responsibility. Companies can choose their own path and only focus on what is essential.
Global Compact offers the companies both a national and international network through which they can discuss matters and share best practices. Through the network, companies can also collaborate and come up with new business opportunities. The Finnish Global Compact network was established last year and already consists of over 90 companies of different sizes operating in various fields. The network promotes the development of corporate responsibility in Finland and helps take Finnish know-how abroad. The first event will be held in April.
Sami Lundgren, Chairman of the Board, Global Compact Network Finland, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, UPM Responsibility
Lenita Toivakka, Executive Director, Global Compact Network Finland
Published in the business daily Kauppalehti in Finnish on 27 February 2020.