2.5. corporate performance on CSR issues. While many of

2.5. External Standards and Other Developments-

          The increased interest
in CSR has been accompanied by substantial growth in the number of external
standards for business by governmental, non-governmental, advocacy and other
types of organisations. These various standards are designed to support,
measure, assists in implementation and enhance accountability for corporate performance
on CSR issues. While many of the standards produced are based on a single
issue, others like Social Accountability 8000 address a range of CSR issues.

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          Various
performance and reporting standards have been introduced. Some are explained
below-  

    The Global Reporting Initiative: It is a
reporting standard established in 1997 with the mission of designing globally
applicable guidelines for preparing enterprise-level sustainability reports
including both social and environmental indicators. The GRI is convened by
CERES(Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) incorporates the active
participation of corporations, non-governmental organizations, international
organizations United Nations agencies, consultants, accountancy organizations,
business associations, universities and other stakeholders from around the
world. The GRI first released its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines in 1999
and is now a permanent, independent, international body with a
multi-stakeholder governance structure. An international network of thousands
from business, civil society, labor and professional institutions create the
content of the Reporting Framework in a consensus-seeking process.

    AA1000: Launched in
1999, AA1000 based on John Elkington’s triple bottom line (3BL) reporting is an
accountability and performance by learning through stakeholder engagement. The
AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA1000SES) is a generally applicable,
open-source framework for improving the quality of the design, implementation,
assessment, communication and assurance of stakeholder engagement. The AA1000
Assurance Standard was launched in 2003 as the world’s first sustainability
assurance standard and applies to the principles of Materiality, Completeness
and Responsiveness.

    Social Accountability 8000:
Globalisation of business, whilst providing significant benefits to
organisations, has brought new challenges and risks. As supply chains become
more complex, it is increasingly difficult to ensure transparent management
practices in practices in every market. Recently many high profile
multi-nationals like Nike have been implicated in scandals involving the use of
child labour, discriminatory work practices of enforced labour within their
supply chains. Consumer pressure, NGO scrutiny and the media amongst others are
all placing business under the microscope. SA 8000 is a comprehensive, global,
verifiable performance standard for auditing and certifying compliance with
corporate responsibility. SA8000 is an international standard for improving
working conditions. This standard is based on the principles of the
international human rights norms as described in International Labour Organisation
conversations, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The requirements of this standard apply
regardless of geographic location, industry sector or company size.

    United Nations Global Compact: The Global
Compact is a voluntary international corporate citizenship network initiated to
support the participation of both the private sector and other social actors to
advance responsible corporate citizenship and universal social and environmental
principles to meet the challenges of globalization. The UN Global Compact was
formally launched in September 2000. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on
world business leaders to voluntarily “embrace and enact” a set of nine
principles in their individual corporate practices.

    Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: The
guidelines were first published in 1976 and updated most recently in June 2004.
The guidelines are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational
enterprises and are voluntary principles and standards, not legally
enforceable. Governments adhering to the Guidelines encourage the companies
operating within the countries to observe the guidelines wherever they operate.

    Benchmarks for Measuring Business
Performance: The Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility
(ICCR) has published “Principles for Global Corporate Responsibility” which is
not a standard but a “collective distillation of the issues of concern” for
institutional investors developed by groups in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
The ICCR is comprised of more than 275 religious institutions that use their
investments to promote social change. The principles cover the entire spectrum
of CSR issues, including workplace, community, the environment, human rights,
ethics, suppliers and consumers. The principles are published as a reference
tool that companies (and investors) can use to benchmark or monitor their own
policies or those of the companies in which they invest.

    The Caux Round Table (CRT): It promotes
principled business leadership and the belief that business has a crucial role
in identifying and promoting sustainable and equitable solutions to key global
issues affecting the physical, social and economic environments. The CRT has
produced “Principles for Business”, a document which seeks to express a
worldwide standard for ethical and responsible corporate behaviour for dialogue
and express a worldwide standard for ethical and responsible corporate
behaviour for dialogue and action by business and leaders worldwide. The
principles include the social impact of company operations on the local
community, a respect for rules and ethics, support for multilateral trade
agreements that promote the “judicious liberation of trade”, respect for the
environment and “avoidance of illicit operation”, including bribery, money laundering
and other corrupt practices.

    The Global Sullivan Principles: Introduced
in 1999, the Global Sullivan Principles expand upon the original Sullivan
Principles, which were developed by the late Reverend Leon H. Sullivan in 1977
as a voluntary code of conduct for companies doing business in apartheid South
Africa. According to Rev. Sullivan, “The objectives of the Global Sullivan
Principles are to support economic, social and political justice by companies
where they do business; to support human rights and to encourage equal
opportunity at all levels of employment including racial and gender diversity
on decision-making committees and boards; to train and advance disadvantaged
workers for technical, supervisory and management opportunities; thereby
helping to improve the quality of life for communities, workers and children
with dignity and equality.”

    Asian-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) Business Code of Conduct: APEC is
known as the primary international organization for promoting open trade and
economic cooperation among 21 member countries. The Code, issued as draft in
1999, is a standard that draws significantly on a variety of other
internationally recognized codes and standards. The drafting of the Code was
initiated by business leaders from companies operating in APEC countries and is
designed to supplement and support companies’ existing codes of conduct. In
addition to providing recommendations for specific ” company action” on a range
of issues, the Code addresses policy recommendations to APEC country
governments.