UN Global Compact membership and subscribing 10 principles help us align strategy and operations

By being member of The United Nations Global Compact, we enhance the global partnership for sustainable development by multi-stakeholder partnerships that “mobilise and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources” as stated in SDG 17.

Sioen is a member of the UN Global Compact and signs the 10 principles

Sioen formalises its commitment to sustainability in many ways. One is its memberships of the United Nations Global Compact and the subscription of the 10 Principles. By incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into our strategy, policies and procedures and by establishing a corporate culture of integrity and values, we’re upholding our basic responsibilities towards people and the planet. The 10 principles help us to have CSR high on the agenda and to live as good corporate citizens.

What is the UN Global Compact

Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact (UNGC) is a call to companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption (UN Global Compact Principles), and take actions to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With more than 12 000 signatories over 170 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative. The initiative is both global and local, private and public, voluntary yet accountable.

Belgian branch

The UN Global Compact has a unique constellation of participants, bringing companies together with governments, civil society, labour, the United Nations, and other key stakeholders. Global Compact Local Networks were launched to help make the UN Global Compact relevant across the world’s different economic, political and cultural contexts and to support meaningful engagement with its signatories.

The Global Compact Network Belgium (GCNB) implements a programme of activities in support of Belgium-based UN Global Compact signatories who wish to maximise the benefits of their engagement with the UN Global Compact. In order to achieve greater impact in the Belgian landscape, the GCNB created an alliance with the sustainability network The Shift in January 2016. This results in shared services for our members in terms of activities, projects and campaigning on the SDGs. The Belgian website of the UN Global Compact.

Complying with the UN Global Compact

Complying with the UN Global Compact used to be easy. The CEO of the company swore that the company was taking sustainable actions. And that was it. Abuse was not far away and we were shocked to see that colleague manufacturers who disregarded the law shamelessly, were listed on the UN Global Compact website.
Today, things are way stricter. Although still voluntary, members now have to pay a contribution fee and must prove progress through detailed reporting.
In our case, a letter of commitment of our CEO, Michele Sioen was sent to the UN Secretary-General committing to:

  1. implementing the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact;
  2. taking action in support of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  3. and submitting an annual Communication on Progress (COP).

Sioen embraces the UN global Compact Principles

Sioen subscribes wholeheartedly to all the rules set in the 10 principles. We agree that “corporate sustainability starts with a company’s value system and a principles-based approach to doing business. This means operating in ways that, at a minimum, meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Responsible businesses enact the same values and principles wherever they have a presence, and know that good practices in one area do not offset harm in another.” As stated on the United Nations Global Compact Principles website.

By incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into our strategy, policies and procedures and by establishing a corporate culture of integrity and values we’re upholding our basic responsibilities towards people and the planet. They are effective because these goals help us hone in on the sustainability risks and considerations, leading to prioritisation and clear actions.

The Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact are derived from: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The Ten principles are

Human Rights

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour

  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Environment

  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Anti-Corruption

  • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

These 10 principles are also integral part of the focal points in one of the 5 P’s, namely Peace . Here we set out how we approach ethical entrepreneurship, we define actions, and we impact the impact they have.

Life-long learning

Corporate social responsibility is not a state but a process. One reason our adherence has been successful is the UNGC’s extensive toolbox, which includes action platforms to establish partnerships and to solve challenges, an online UN Business Action Hub and other resources. An example is a reporting partnership with GRI, which helps businesses share information, engage in open dialogue and take action to accelerate tangible progress towards a more sustainable world. The UN Global Compact gives us insights, knowledge and the opportunity to build skills to meet our sustainability objectives and to consequently contribute to the 2030 Goals for Sustainable Development.

Through virtual sessions, e-learning courses, influencer series and networking sessions our employees can learn more about the topics of their daily concerns.

We acknowledge that we don’t use all possibilities of this UN Global Compact Membership. Many things run in parallel with actions of other associations such as amfori BSCI . In addition, we’re often too consumed with our daily operations, which also include the many audits for certifications.

One of our more hands-on targets will be to ask some key employees to dedicated time to dive into the many learning opportunities the UN Global Compact offers.

Other benefits

What’s said on certificates and sustainability audits can equally be said about complying with the UN Global Compact. It’s good for business. And it’s good for society.

Corporate and organisational success requires stable economies and healthy, skilled and educated workers, among other factors. Sustainable companies experience increased brand trust and investor support.

In addition, companies such as ours offer fresh ideas and scalable solutions to society’s challenges, which is exactly what we need to create a better world.